Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2007 (a) - The Winter of Our Discontent

Let us hop in the way back machine to the dim days of January in 2007. If memory serves, it was a mild winter, though it got terrible late in the season. I was still working the first job, the job I hated. Here is our aspiring novelist, dead-ended and frustrated. He has a couple hundred pages of his first novel written, but it's not close to finished. He's suffering from a broken heart that he's nursing into full-blown angst and from wrists and hands that are losing more and more of their strength and hurt more and more often.

This is not a happy life. Oh no, quite opposite. This is the life of the contentedly unhappy. Our writing friend here wants very much to achieve something but struggles with what he wants. He thought he knew, but that turned out to be wrong (for a number of reasons that are truly outside of the scope of this discussion, even if the issue was a major focus of the year). Of course, when you're only twenty one many things you know turn out to be wrong. But to our friend at the beginning of 2007, the mistakes were inexcusable and he was falling apart with questioning everything he had ever believed in all at once in the most wrong of ways.

Our friend wanted to be a writer. Yet he never wrote. He hemmed and hawed about writing, but when it came to putting words on the page? There was always an excuse. There was always some sort of issue that prevented it. Admittedly he was having wrist problems, so I'm willing to cut him a little slack. But he caused more trouble than he needed to. He was good at that. His angst was comfortable, in its way. He was so used to it that it was easier (or at least less frightening) than the alternative.

He had been stuck in his day job for a while, and he was overstaying his welcome. He could do more, but the company and him just didn't get along. There are jobs and there are jobs, in that some are based on shutting up and following the rules and there are jobs where the best thing to do is always excel and break out of the box and make yourself stand out. Our friend, when he sets his mind to things, is good at that second one. That first one? He's not so good at that. Never had been, even though he pretended for a while.

He slogged through his book with a pace that could best be described as glacial. Though, to be fair, glaciers would file libel suits against me at the comparison. And likely win. This book had been started in high school. Since then he had moved numerous times and been to college and been kicked out of college and gone back to college to fix his grades and stopped going to school because of money. He had fallen in love and fallen in lust and ended up in a deadly serious relationship that ended in madness. Friends had appeared in his life, lived out their usefulness, and disappeared into fate's currents again.

I can tell you that this is the WRONG way to write a book. Joyce and Tolkien can take over a decade to write their masterpieces, but they were both barking mad. Books are like bandaid removal or setting a bone or pulling out a splinter or somesuch. The fastest way is to just do it, damn the consequences, and grimace and moan afterwards when you're writhing in the surprising sudden pain. It sucks, sure, but it's a lot easier than suffering over such a long time while you try to take it slow and easy. Let me tell you, taking it slow and easy will get you that first half of your goal and make the second absolutely impossible.

Yet, with his pain and suffering, the writer threw himself into his work (as much as he was able, with his hands the way they were and his mind the way it was). And he wrapped up his book in the early springtime. That was a bit of happiness. Four years work, with all that baggage, wrapped up and tied neatly. It wasn't pretty. It was a confused mess. It was a ginormous monster of a piece, full of crazy and contradiction and really, really bad writing. But it was done. There was a hope, a glimmer, of happiness in the writer's life. He thought, as he wrapped up his book and the days grew warm after the depths of a late winter, that he was finally coming around to something happy and better and all those things he hated himself for not having.

Little did he know that things always take that nice little upswing right before the plummet down into the depths. But he would soon find out.

Tomorrow: A Summer of Nothingness

No comments: