For years, more than I can count, I wanted to be a writer. I started out writing things that I’d seen on TV. It started with Power Rangers. I wrote some of the events that were happening on the screen, and I gave them to a student teacher I had in one of my classes. I think I was in 3rd or 4th grade at the time. I think I remember having a bit of a crush on her, maybe I was trying to impress her with my brain.
But I knew at that point that I wanted to be an author. I wanted to write novels. When I was introduced to Fantasy a few years later, (detailed in another post) I realized that I wanted to publish a big fantasy novel. To walk in the footsteps of, to me, literary giants. Margaret Weiss, Tracy Hickman, RA Salvatore, George R. R. Martin, J. R. R. Tolkien, Stephen King, Ed Greenwood, and countless others. I think the idea of getting published, of being an author, was more important to me at the time than the act of writing stories.
“You’re creative, in a mechanical sort of way.” – Jenn
Writing stories has never been a big part of who I am. I tell good stories; I’m the person everyone looks to when recounting a story. (Or so it seems to me.) I’m good at embellishing the parts that are fun to embellish, and I get into the retelling of a story with gusto. That’s part of the reason I enjoy keeping a blog. I get to tell all my stories, and my only stretch of creativity is to come up with an interesting way to tell a boring story.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking with several different people about what I wanted to be when I grew up. The one that still resonates more than any other is the desire to be an author. I say writer sometimes, and people remind me that I am a writer; like they don’t understand what I’m talking about. They mention the two eBooks I wrote, and the blog that I keep. Like these qualify me to have a title of “writer”.
I think one of the things that I’m missing in life is experience. I’ve been around a lot of places, but only superficially. I don’t wander through life in a drunk or stoned haze. I’ve been drunk a handful of times, never gotten high, and I don’t think I’ve ever even seen cocaine in person. Hell, I’ve never even lit up a cigarette. I’ve moved away from everyone I’ve ever known, and I spend most of my life hiding away from this new world I’ve found myself in.
So there’s this guy in my head. He lives there. Simple, doesn’t say much. Unlike other characters, he doesn’t have adventures. He’s fond of scotch; he likes to read. He lives in a small underground cellar, with a nook built into the wall. He smokes cigarettes from time to time, while a lamp hangs over his head. He wears a coat all the time, even while indoors, and a small hat. There’s a cat that sometimes unfurls and looks at him, before curling into a tight ball. His clothes are never trendy; just a belt, blue jeans, and a t-shirt. There’s a card table with paper plates, empty glasses, and coffee-stained papers. The bathroom is gross, with a flickering light bulb and a cracked mirror hanging over the toilet.
“If you can stop writing, do that.” ~ RA Salvatore
I don’t know his name. Maybe he doesn’t have one. Maybe he’s important, maybe he isn’t. I guess the only way I’ll ever find out is if I make him get up out of that basement, and look at the world with tired eyes that are accustomed to dark confines. But the real question is: what would I want to do with him? What journey should he take? An attempt to discover who he is? What if he already knows exactly the kind of person that he is? Should I send him on a path looking for love? Maybe see what breaks his heart into a thousand pieces and if there’s a way to glue those pieces back together.
Perhaps he needs to be reforged into another person. Fires fed on broken dreams can bring about a cathartic release, but first I would have to understand the dreams that were broken, and why. Which might be interesting; when I wrote regularly it felt as though the characters drove the story, but anymore they don’t seem to. Maybe I’ve become too analytical, or maybe I just don’t want to do the hard work of being creative.
“I should write a play.”
“You should. I think everyone should.”