Lane Watson article

The Ancient Sailor: from dilettante to monkhood cave writing

by Gregory Frye

Most people haven’t heard of writer Lane Watson yet, which is a good reason for you to check his website as soon as you finish reading this article about him.  Actually check it now and come back here later!

Any work he publishes from here on out has been a long time coming and should not be taken lightly.

“I would say my relationship with creativity is love-hate. I absolutely hate it on a daily basis because it just tears into me. But when I do complete something, even when it’s sort of half-ass, it’s a joyful experience. It’s like a spiritual, orgasmic ascension,” Lane Watson says, his face reduced to a small box on my computer screen during a transatlantic video call.

He deals in poetry and fiction but has mostly been working on the former the past few years. Fiction is a greater struggle for him because he’s such a perfectionist when it comes to getting the prose right.

“Really what it comes down to is: does anybody care what I’m writing? It’s easy to write poetry because it’s an internal process for me. So when I share that with people, I really don’t care what their criticisms or comments are because it’s ultimately for me.”

And as personal as this process is for Watson, he does want his poetry and especially fiction to affect people. He wants to use his art to change the world. This pressure, however, is part of what keeps Watson from creating as much as he’d like.

“I don’t write near as much as I did when I was young. When you’re young, you’re stupid. You do all kinds of crazy stuff, and you don’t listen to anyone because you know it all, so it’s a lot easier.”

Getting older, learning more about the craft and about life, has slowed him down in regards to his fiction. He is constantly thinking about the best way to get the audience involved in what he’s writing.

“Even though I might want to write an anal sex scene with a dog into a story to really push it. I know ultimately it’s only going to turn people off,” he said with a laugh.

Now with his writing he doesn’t necessarily want to shock or offend. “With all of my writing the message is that love is absolutely the purpose of our existence on this earth and that even the most minute things in this world have the capacity to interconnect and intertwine our lives and show us our purpose.”

So weird sex scenes with the neighbor’s house cat just aren’t going to work, even if meant as a joke, when it comes to reaching a larger audience. “Something like fringe people would read that stuff but not most readers.”

As Watson nears his forties, he can sense himself drawing in on what he describes as a state of monkhood, sitting in a cave and doing what he’s supposed to do. Writing.

Reaching this state didn’t come easily. About ten years ago, Watson lost all of his writing in a house fire after which he went for several years without writing regularly. “I wasn’t crushed by that, but I was trying to find my identity as a writer.”

In hindsight, he looks back on the fire as a blessing. At the time he was recycling the same things over and over in his writing. He was stuck in a creative rut. “When the fire happened, it was kind of a liberating moment for me. I couldn’t say what I wanted to say, and I realized I didn’t have to say any damn thing until I was ready to say it.”

For the rest of his twenties and even into his early thirties, Watson just took in life. While it was difficult for him not to have a project at any given moment, he was taking in the world around him, sucking everything up like a sponge. During this time, he started working on a college degree, met some influential friends and mentors and read as much as possible.

“That period has allowed me to go into a different level of my writing,” he says. “The internal struggle with writing, to really say what I wanted to say, to say it consistently and poetically is what’s important to me, and that time allowed me to do it … I can see why most novelists are in their forties; they’re consistent novelists.”

Watson at his aunt’s house

He’s been working on the poetry for the past few years, and now he’s sensing sparks from the fiction side of his desk. “Everything is starting to click and come together.”

“It’s a struggle of the interior in a world where everyone wants to have their fifteen minutes,” he adds after looking back on twenty years of dilettance and struggling to find his voice. “I’m trying to heal a wounded child within and hopefully touch somebody else. I don’t give a fuck about the rest of it. I just want people to

Reading recommendations:

The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart by Robert Bly (poems)

anything by Richard Ford

NOTE: (this was initially the intro to the article but too long and self-induglent, so here it is as an afterword.) I met Lane Watson my first day as a neurotic junior at Rockhurst University. After we realized we had the same sense of humor and a shared passion for reading and creating literature, we became quick friends and ultimately brothers. He allowed me into his world which at the time he didn’t seem to keen to share with a lot of people. Ten years my senior, he taught me, a reclusive young writer, how to talk to other people, how to connect. During this time I noticed he had a tortured artist thing about him, always seemed to be unsettled, and I thought it was because he wasn’t working on any project. A writer not writing. I don’t know how accurate my impression was, and there’s a lot more to the story of our Rockhurst days, but this is about him and either way, I’m glad to see that he’s working again and hopefully one day soon you’ll see why. Now we just have to wait for him to finish the fucking manuscript!


2 Responses to “Lane Watson article”

  1. He just “wants people to” – read the recommendations? This touches my heart so, beyond – … lovely and heart wrenching … tenderly hopeful.

  2. I sound like a dilettante, no? Thank you for posting the interview. I enjoyed doing ti with you.


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