Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.

I don’t think I could ever be able to make it in any sort of live performance art. Whether it’s music or stand-up comedy or anything else, my social anxiety is far too overwhelming and I don’t think my ego could handle that sort of immediate rejection. Maybe the very nature of the Internet has facilitated my social isolation, because it’s so much safer and more comfortable from behind a computer keyboard. Maybe.

Growing up around the end of the 19th century, Franz Kafka was understandably not engulfed in the world wide web the way that we are today. The Internet didn’t exist, of course, but this sentiment of taking a deep dive into your own psyche is certainly something with which I can identify. I’ve been writing online for nearly two decades, more than half of which time I’ve been doing it professionally. This is no side gig. It is my day job.

But much of the subject matter I explore here on Beyond the Rhetoric is fundamentally different from the work I do with my freelance writing clients. While I certainly insert a little bit of myself into every smartphone review or every editorial on the current state of social media, those topics are never really about me. But Beyond the Rhetoric kind of is.

It probably won’t surprise too many of you to learn that a lot of the “advice” I tout in this space is really just directed back at me. When I discuss the pain of to-do lists left uncompleted, that’s my pain. When I talk about the reason why you’re unhappy, I’m really reflecting on why I may feel unhappy.

And by descending into the “cold abyss” of myself, I hope to provide some helpful insights for you too.

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.

To be perfectly honest, I know almost nothing about Franz Kafka. I know that he was a writer and I know that he became incredibly influential (but really only after he passed away), but that’s really about it. Maybe that’s something that needs to change. Reading more is probably one of the best things I can do for myself as a writer.

Because, at the end of the day, writing for a living is a privilege… a privilege that was largely denied to Franz Kafka himself. Me, you’ll probably still find me obsessing about it “mercilessly” for years to come. Who knows what I may discover in the deepest corners of my mind?