I’ve made a real concerted effort to move away from writing about my sadness on this here blog thing of mine because it was always meant to be about good things, things I like and things that make me happy. Talking about being sad will inevitably be a part of that, after all happiness wouldn’t be happiness without that far less enjoyable side of the coin. Still, it shouldn’t be all I write about.
Trouble is, I leave these posts till the last minute, and usually that works out okay because I’ll just smash at my keyboard until something positive is born. But then come times like these, where I need something to materialise in a word document RIGHT NOW and all I can think about is how low I feel. So here I am, tip tap typing away, hoping against hope something will drag me out of my stupor.
Any second now…
I’m sure something will show up…
There’s this novel I’ve wanted to write for a little while, a story I desperately want to tell but don’t feel ready for. I’ve written one novel before, and it rests upon my coffee table as a thick stack of A4 paper, gathering dust. There’s moments in the tale I’m really proud of, scenes and arcs and ideas I think I really managed to translate down on to the page. The rest of it though… It’s just, well, boring. Going back through those pages has really made me doubt my ability to good write, like writer humans do. That worry rears up a lot, and it’s always pretty scary. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to write. I had no real dream to make a living from writing, because as incredible as that would be it just isn’t realistic. I hoped that one day I might be able to get something published, though, be it a book or a few articles or anything, really. Except that kind of relies on being a decent writer, and it’s looking less and less likely that’s anywhere close to me.
But, in that way authors so often talk about (when they’re trying to be inspirational and just end up making kids feel bad) I want to write. I want to tell that story, the story I’m not capable of writing, the story of a little boy named Sam Hester and his futile quest for happiness. I want to get that story out of me so I can hold it and feel it and think I’ve done it justice. One day I’m hoping I can give it that justice, but I certainly can’t right now, not through this comma riddled prose of mine.
So what now? I’ve entered act two of this blog, the act where I stop bemoaning my brutally murdered relationship and start looking ahead towards the future instead. I’m young(ish) and young(ish) people are meant to have their whole lives ahead of them, it’s meant to be exciting and energising right? But good god the future is terrifying. It’s not some brilliant playground full of possibilities and dreams, it’s a videogame dungeon full of swinging axes and spike pits labelled consequences and unforeseen events. Decisions I made almost a year ago are about to leap out from behind bushes and I can’t help but feel it’s not fair. That me shouldn’t get to effect this me so god damn much, he was young and stupid and now I’m young(ish) and stupid and I hate this never-ending anxiety about my life.
But that novel is a constant in my imagined future. That story that can’t quite be told, not yet. If I can leap over the spike pits, dodge roll past the swinging axes, maybe kill a skeleton or two along the way, it’ll be waiting, a golden chest filled to bursting with treasure. If I ever get to tell that tale, and feel proud of the result, I think I will have won life.
But those are pretty big if’s. The likelihood of me getting to that point seems slim, and I’m not confident it’ll ever seem easier. So to this blog I turn, bemoaning my perfectly privileged life.
It’s not just me, is the thing, so why do I get to complain about it? I don’t even have it bad, I have it pretty good to be honest. How can I sit here and grumble about my own existence when I could be grumbling about the way we treat the homeless or the inevitability of climate change? How can I cry about little old me when the world is literally melting?
I’m certain, however, that it’s okay to write that theoretical story, lodged in my brain. Sam Hester and the Quest for Happiness feels worthwhile. Worthwhile enough to hold off writing until I’m more capable, anyway. It’s only meant to be a small thing, in the sense that it doesn’t tackle any great issues about the world or society. It’s about a sad little boy and his decision to keep on trying to be happy, rather than surrendering to the greyness in his brain. It’s about the decision to keep on trying even when it looks like nothing’s going to work. It’s about the fact that kids can be sad too, sometimes, and we should allow the truth of that to exist. It’s about things that are personal to me, but that are universal at the same time. Small, personal troubles aren’t necessarily singular, and if I can learn something from Sam Hester then I think other people surely could as well.
I’m not going to try and justify my complaining on this blog thing by saying it could be helpful for people who feel similarly. Even in my desperate scramble to end this post positively I shan’t pretend I honestly believe that. But I do believe, despite all the inconsistencies in style, tone, and subject, I’ve kept on writing for the non-existent audience I have here every single week. Three times a week, without fail so far (we’ll see how long that lasts) I’ve managed to scramble something together, however rushed. Sometimes I’m proud of the results, most of the time I’m not. Too often it devolves into things like this, irritating negativity and self-analysis. But nevertheless, they are words all the same. Lots and lots of words.
So, what now? Keep on writing, is what. Maybe, eventually, if I don’t let up, I might get a tiny bit better. A little while after that, if I’m not in prison or inexplicably upside down, I might start the tale of little Sam Hester. And then, many years from now, when my childish brain has matured and wrinkled, and my skin has started peeling off in great thick layers, I might be able to present the story of Sam Hester to my three or so readers. And I’ll feel okay, because all this complaining, all this self-indulgent whining, it made me a slightly better writer. Wrinkled me might just about be proud of his little story by then. I think that kind of makes all this rubbish of mine okay.