First of all, the world didn't implode. When you go most of your life pinging from thing to thing and then find some measure of focus, it can be scary to throw something new in the mix. In fact, fear has trickled into everything and it is indeed the enemy.
So, there are some letters in the painting. I guess my fear was masked as an assumption. An assumption that 'why bother it's going to be too declarative, pin it down too much, too grounded, be a red herring, etc' was made. It turned out to be mostly correct. But I forgot all the things you learn on the way- it had been so long since I threw a wrench in my work on purpose (having to dodge incidental wrenches from outside).
I learned that it will be possible for me to work with letters but that it's going to take more time/trials. I learned that using letters could offer yet another tool, another dimension in the painting. If I play with signifiers of space, is it so off-base to play with signifiers of language/sound? And if it is, I need to learn that the hard way. In fact, this painting isn't awkward enough, it's just crap. Really. Garage sale $5.