I DON’T really know where to begin if I’m to summarize my life. My life is not particularly noteworthy. There are moments of horror and moments of elation. A chronological tale makes sense, but there are really only a handful of events and pointed moments that qualify as interesting. The rest is a void of waiting around for stars to align and magic to happen.
In all other aspects of life but writing, I’m a habitual failure. I’ll get into some of that another day, but to summarize I’ll say this: all I am or know how to be is a writer, and all the other roles I have to play in life are spinning plates to hold. The past couple of years I’ve come to feel alienated, misunderstood, not accepted for what I am, all that good existential stuff. In my real life, I put myself in positions of voluntary servitude to others instead of seeking out new friendships with people who might actually take an active interest in my life for a change. A distance has formed in almost all my relationships with friends and family, for the most part without cause. Maybe it’s just in my head. Who knows?
I’m starved for some real honesty. Not to put down any of the people in my life who are indeed a positive presence, but sometimes I feel like I’m talking to brick walls everywhere I go. I probably am the brick wall, or I’ve built one around myself. Or maybe I’ve spent so many years studying other human beings like specimens in jars that I’ve become someone to whom most others cannot relate.
Let’s just say I joined this writing community at the perfect time. I was in the midst of a quiet crisis, and I suppose I came looking to this place to alleviate the pressure. Talking to other writers is cathartic for me. My friendships are only fulfilling in that I’m a person who, as a writer, takes an interest in all subjects, in every person’s life. But one thing most of my friendships lacked for a long time was any focus on my writing—and, in effect, me. I suppose I should have just joined a writer’s group.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I guess I’ve just been lonely, feeling like no one understands me. Boo hoo. That’s a big club, right? Regardless, I want more out of life. More specifically I want to find the inspiration to write a good book—the right book. That’s ultimately all I care about.
I think when you’re a person who craves knowledge and understanding, you reach a point when your brain suffers an information overload and its processes become glitchy and fragmented. Hopefully the next step for me, psychologically, is some grand epiphany, a moment of clarity, and I’ll segue into an era of peace and enlightenment and be able to get a firm grasp on my stories.
Right now I have dozens of starts to novels, all of them good ideas, none of them great. I feel like Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation, so obsessed with creating something truly worthwhile that it’s driving me crazy. I constantly juggle the goals of commercial success and creating something canonical, timeless. Millions of dollars but also critical acclaim and literary prizes and old, bearded scholars studying my book and arguing for its permanence.
Side note: in the movie Adaptation, if you haven’t seen it, Charlie’s twin brother gives him a copy of Story by Robert McKee, a How To for writers, to help with his writer’s block. The book is met with skepticism by the protagonist, but I’ve read it, and it’s actually pretty useful.
In the meantime, what complaints can I really lodge? I have freedom. I have solitude, time, coffee, alcohol—it’s the perfect recipe for literary excellence. I need to stay optimistic. More than anything I need to put down words. Who knows? The novel I’m about to finish might just be the one.
Can you relate to any of this?
Maybe I won’t feel so alone if you do.