Just doesn’t have the same ring to it …
I am 29 years old today and I’m trying to stop thinking about age in general. At least to stop thinking about it the way I’m used to thinking about it, which is the way I picked up from randomly seeing an Ally McBeal ad when I was a kid where she was freaking out about turning 30. You wanna talk about media effects? Talk to me. I was raised by media effects.
I had this whole huge rant I was going to post that I spent over an hour writing last night. I took so long to write it that I literally aged a year before I stopped, because after 3k words I still hadn’t come to any sort of resolution and, while I don’t think every post needs a resolution or narrative arc or whatever, I still like it better if it does. For my own sake, if nobody else’s. It just makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.
The reason I didn’t post it is because it’s the kind of post you write when you have a problem, know what it is and then write about it in order to gain some sense of mastery over yourself, but all the while you feel like you’re just starting a self-fulfilling prophecy, that by “getting it off your chest” you are, ironically, making it even more of a problem, making it that much harder to detach yourself from. And I think it’s because if you write something it becomes more real; you have to reckon with it outside of the infinite possibility of your own mind, and once it’s taken on a solid form – the form of the written word in this case – then that’s it. All other options are closed. And even with a bit of narrative resolution to top it all off, it feels like you’ve just sold yourself out somehow, like instead of acknowledging and dislodging the problem you’ve just given yourself an excuse to keep it alive, and that writing about it was just a momentary escape to distract yourself from getting at the root of what’s troubling you.
Maybe that’s just me, but I get that feeling a lot with my big ranty posts, or journal entries, or whatever kind of soul-baring scribework I feel compelled to undertake. What does work, though, is letting myself write those huge ranty pieces and then not finishing them, or publishing them, or ever looking at them again. Because sometimes you just need to get it out in the open and not try to find a resolution. And you don’t have to share it, either. You can just do it for yourself.
So today, I’m feeling pretty damn good. I was all freaked out about turning 29, one year closer to 30, too old to start a professional sports career outside of golf or billiards – not that I want to do any of those things, but the option is now closed is my point. All of these options being closed just because I’ve been in existence for almost 3 decades. It’s such bullshit.
And now, I really do feel that it is all bullshit, as in nothing I should be even remotely concerned about – and I’m not. I’m thinking about what to write.
One thing that came out of my huge ramble last night was feeling like I was getting closer to reconnecting with “how I used to do things”, one of those “back in the day” sorts of things – I really am getting old – and my shitty YA werewolf novel was one of the catalysts. I didn’t write any of it yesterday; I didn’t write anything yesterday except for that one blog post and then the big rant. I was in a generally shitty kind of mood, restless and dissatisfied and unmotivated. But that doesn’t really matter. The point is that I was thinking about my shitty YA werewolf novel and how it’s just not even remotely original, and how I was kind of disappointed in that regard.
Now this is interesting to me, because the entire point of this shitty YA werewolf thing was that it was the most iterative, derivative, generic tripe I could pull off in as short a period of time as possible, because that was what seemed like a fun idea to me at the time, a neat little experiment. As I’ve said before, I failed that experiment; it’s taken 10 months for me to get it almost-finished, when it should have been done in, like, a night. Maybe over the course of a few days. It was not meant to be some kind of thoughtful exploration of werewolf mythology or tropes; it was meant to be me adding one more werewolf story to the world that would change nothing and just kind of stretch my storytelling muscles a little bit. Like standards for musicians, I guess. Play the hits, do a good job, nothing groundbreaking – just do it to show that you understand what makes them work. That’s what this werewolf novel was supposed to be, and what it has very much stopped being at this stage. I simply could not write it fast enough, and now it’s outgrown its original purpose, and I’m getting disappointed with it. It was not designed to withstand the kind of scrutiny I’m throwing at it, which is the scrutiny of somebody who actually likes their stories to be the slightest bit original most of the time, particularly if I’m the one writing the story in question.
On the other hand, I am starting to feel more like I’m ready to actually try and write something more original, something I have to grapple with a bit as opposed to a speed-run through trope central. I mean, I still like that idea, but this werewolf novel has also stopped being that. I’m still going to finish it because I’m so close, but after that?
I might actually try to rewrite it as something a bit more original.
I once called this novel more of a writing exercise than an actual story, but writing exercises are a tool writers use to get themselves into gear for writing actual stories. I mean not always; sometimes you just want to flex your writing muscles a little bit. But in my case, I think this could actually work out pretty well. It could be interesting to see what I can do with it. Mostly to see if there’s anything I can do to set it apart from Teen Wolf in a meaningful way, because while there are a lot of superficial differences, I could call this novel Teen Wolf and it would fit just as well. Teenager turns into a werewolf and has to deal with it. That’s the story. And while I’m not ashamed of it, I am starting to get a bit agitated. I know I can do better. I know that the point of this novel was not to do better but to just do – but I’m done with that now. The novelty of writing some by-the-numbers bullshit has worn off, and I’m slipping back into “write something good” mode.
And that’s why I’m feeling good today, because “back in the day”, this is how I used to write. I wrote because I was interested, and I wrote while looking to the future rather than getting hung up on what I hadn’t accomplished in the past. Mind you I was 13 at the time and didn’t have much of a past to draw on, certainly not with regards to my portfolio. But that forward-thinking attitude was what made all the work feel like play to me; I wrote a lot when I was 13, and it just didn’t feel like a chore. I also had fewer responsibilities than I do now, but still, there’s something to be said about not trying to improve on what you’ve already done but instead just writing yourself forward, always forward, to find out what comes next. Which is how I feel today.
I might write some more of my shitty YA werewolf novel today; I might write something entirely different, something a little more original. I honestly feel a bit spoilt for choice; I could write anything, and nothing is really standing out to me. Maybe it’s time for something entirely new.
In any case: it’s my party, and I’ll write what I want to. I just need to find out what it is.
Or not. Maybe I’ll just chill. It is my birthday.
(also I’m trying to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and I cannot fucking stand it I hate the writing I hate the character I just hate this fucking book so much sorry to all the fans I guess I should have read it 10 years ago)