Nearing the thirty thousand word mark on my novel for NaNoWriMo I have learned a few things about myself. I’m not used to writing this much, this fast and so it’s quite peculiar to find that I’m actually really loving it. I’m getting so much done that I feel like an idiot for not doing it this way sooner. My entire life these last two weeks has consisted of me sitting at my laptop at the table in the dining room and just writing. Occasionally reading or listening to lectures too, but mostly writing. It’s like a micro version of what i feel like my life should be. Eight to twelve hours per day writing sounds like a pain in the arse…I thought It would be. But I’ve honestly never felt better about my work, myself. Hell, i’m even starting to have opinions about things and care about issues. I’m quite scared to be honest.
I am a much better writer than I ever thought I was. I knew I could churn out nice little monologues and occasional witty one liners, but I’ve never been greatly impressed by the majority of my output. There are a few bits and pieces that I’m immensely proud of, but I’ve always felt sub par. This dedicated period of writing (short though it is) has made me feel good about what i’m doing. I know that i’m still far from being as good as I will be in the future, but I feel that I am continually learning and improving, as opposed to how I felt before where I just assumed that sparks of creativity were leaping into my head and that was all that I was good for.
Writing is what I love. It is hard work getting things down onto paper (or screen) but I always come away from the keyboard with a sense of excitement and an eagerness to get started again. I feel a real joy when I check back over what I have just come up with and see how it ties in with what has gone before and what will come next.
I should Like what I write. I’ve always been far too eager to dismiss anything I create as “yeah…it was alright. It just came out.” rather than admit to myself or anyone else that I have put time and effort into it’s creation. Music, scripts, artwork have all been previously dismissed because I thought that was the right way to be about your creations. I always feel proud when stuff is finished, but I never really admit that it is an accomplishment. I feel as though I should probably stop that now.
My imagination is fucked up. I have written some of the most disturbing scenes that I have ever written or even thought of in this novel. I didn’t realise just how creative I could be in terms of nightmarish imagery and unrelenting bleakness. But I feel the most proud of these parts out of everything I have come up with. These feel like my best work ever. They feel like rites of passage. Solemn exercises in pursuit of some higher understanding. Like the old Buddhist tradition of visualising yourself being torn apart by demons, it is a stage that you have to go through in order to see that these memories and recollections of past events are just memories. And now they are just words on a page. And any power they have is power that you have put into them.
I now know what I want to be when I grow up.
When i first started out on this wild and wacky super fun happy slide I began to figure things out for myself. I learned what worked for me and what didn’t. I understood things about myself and other people. I felt sure of what worked and what didn’t. I’m not saying I was perfect or anything, but I had some ideas and they held up under as much scrutiny as a 20 year old can muster. Shit made sense. I knew that sleep deprivation woke my mind up and gave me powerful and weird inspiration that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I understood why Anarchism was the best and only logical form of political thought (however unlikely and flawed it might be on a grand scale). I knew…KNEW…that there was something going on behind what I could see and was being told. I felt good on a fairly regular basis.
Then, as happens with so many of our best and brightest, I had it all kicked out of me. Literally and figuratively and metaphorically…and metaphysically too. This me that I had begun to quite like, this me that I thought was a fairly decent guy. The me that I wanted to be… To people I wanted to be friends with it was stupid, to girls that I liked it was scary, to bigger and harder and more violent men and women it was the enemy. So i stopped. I turned it all off and stopped. I stopped writing, thinking, dreaming, playing. I would instead spend my days as drunk or as otherwise intoxicated as I could get. I spent literally months of my life being as quiet and inconspicuous as I could. I would find the quietest corner and play with these ideas in my head. Building them up and watching them be destroyed by self doubt and self loathing. If the cool kids and the popular people, the perfect icons with the bouncy and manageable hair thought it was crap then who was I, little old I, who was i to argue?
Over the last few weeks I have been slowly coming to the realisation that ” i” was never wrong. i had it right. But only for me. That’s the important piece in the piss-off puzzle. Whatever you are is who you are and whatever you believe is what you believe. It’s no good looking for closure or acceptance on any of it. If you need outside input to verify what you have proved to yourself, then maybe you haven’t proved it enough just yet. But that’s ok. There’s plenty of time. You don’t have to stick with your first theory and you definitely shouldn’t go along with someone else’s without testing it for yourself because who knows? Maybe 20 million viewers can be wrong. Maybe 8 of 10 cats couldn’t tell their arse from their elbow with flash cards and a copy of Grey’s Anatomy. Today I realised that I had been tricked, and from that first instant of trickery, I carried it on myself. Completely unaware that I was shooting myself in the balls by doing so. No-one ever knew what was the best idea or the best course of action for me at all. They were guessing just as much as I was. It’s all a fucking guessing game. The only one who knows the answer is you and anyone who tells you that they know your correct answer is lying to you and probably wants money.
This all obviously comes with the usual addendum of “you can do whatever you want to do as long as you don’t infringe someone else’s right’s to do what they want to do.” But we all know that bit by now, right? Good. Now…let’s try that again from the beginning.
Onwards and Upwards.
An idea sits behind a sheet of glass at the back of my head. I can see it and I can feel exactly what it means and what the implications of understanding this idea completely will be. I can almost see what it will mean tot be able to explain this to other people. There’s a sense of excitement and a surge of energy. It’s quite physically close to ecstacy, not the drug…at least not the sythentic one. The one in your brain whenever you have that perfect idea that will not wait to come out.
As soon as i reach for it, my angle of perception changes and I lose sight of it completely. I understand less than I did before now. It feels like a massive loss, like forgetting the exact word you’re trying to think of. Or what ever that guy is called out of that film. It’s on the tip of the tip of my tongue and…nope. Lost it.
It’s been happening a lot recently. I feel as thought i’m on the verge of understanding something amazing and having a mental and spiritual and artistic breakthrough. But then because I tried to chase it, I end up with nothing.
Then it occurs to me. The idea will come to you. The fly will land on your palm if you wait and relax and learn for long enough. Then, and only then should you close your hand and try to understand it. Chasing the fly will tire you out and piss you off. Sit and wait and carry on with whatever you were writing. The idea will come back. And it will be bigger and shinier next time because it wants to be chased. Don’t let it trick you. Just wait it out. Be patient.