In recent months I’ve been haunted by a looming terrible thing. It occurred to me at the start of the year that this was realistically the last time I’d ever be able to look at myself seriously as a ‘young person’. As I experience a full orbit for the 26th time, I’ve felt under increasing pressure to do something. I have a great job, potentially a long and fruitful career ahead of me. I do, however, have a weakness. I can never be happy unless I’m coming up with ideas, concepts and things that chime with other people. Unless people listen to me talk and like it, or read words that I’ve arranged into neat little piles and come away from it thinking about something I cannot escape a feeling of having failed.
This isn’t a depression thing. I don’t have a problem with self-worth (evidently). It’s like my subconscious is awakening to the realms of being a full, card carrying adult. With SERIOUS THINGS to worry about on the horizon. I have friends who are getting married, having kids. My number 1 bro is wrapping up production on his third album. These orbits are getting faster, chief. If I’m not getting better I’m just getting old.
So while everybody is getting hitched, buying houses and pro-creating, I’ve decided to have a baby myself. This is going to be an evil baby. It’s going to be the kind of kid that freaks out the other kids in school. The kind of kid the teacher approaches with a cattle prod. I’m putting in the prep work, similar to how the rest of these chumps did behind closed doors as teenagers. Bashing out vignettes, 1000 word samples. I’m lubing up and expanding, for I am determined to deliver a mind-baby. Pure, unadulterated head nonsense, carefully arranged for the perusal of others. It’s going to be long and torturous, a barbed wire turkey baster process, but it’s going to happen. In the name of the old gods, it will be true.
When that’s done, I’m going to make a second one. Uglier, crazier perhaps. By the time that one is tottering off to torment others with scissors at school, I want a third one. And a fourth. See where I’m going with this?
We all have a talent, most of us multiple talents. Things that come naturally to us that others may struggle with. Thing is, those talents aren’t born whole. It’s hard to deny that there are people out there, freaks of nature with preternatural gifts who fart out success without thinking. Without caressing my own hoop too much, I’ve more or less sailed through the 25 previous orbits. I’ve had a few times in my life where I’ve genuinely had to work hard at something. I’ve always been the dickhead who sits around thinking about dinosaurs and ghosts while the others slave away in the library, about-par competence flowing freely as deadlines approach and the subconscious clamps down into survival mode.
As an adult, this shit does not carry. It’s true. There are too many mitigating factors, too many complications for this to go on forever. Other people catch up. Fat kids get muscles, stupid kids get glasses and dyslexia diagnoses and before you know it that puddle jumping autistic kid is landing satellites on UFOs. For me, writing is about slaying dragons. It’s about taking on huge, mental and metaphysical problems of my own creation and whittling it down with the blunt edge of a teaspoon. I regularly seethe with envy as I see others produce content, parading their own mind babies around, taking selfies with them, buying them ice cream. The internal pressure to create one of my own, to bully those little fuckers by proxy, is undergoing alarming entropy. Where is it coming from? Fuck knows. It’s seeping out from inside me. All of a sudden the thing that’s mattering most is measured improvement, output, the ability to finish something I’ve started and apply due care and attention.
So that’s where I am. I’m hunting dragons, chasing them across space and glaciers and deserts. I can’t stop and give up now, because an evil shadow looms behind me. It watches me pursue from the horizon, with a frowning look that I recognize from teachers that hated me from times gone by, it wants to tear me down and prove to the world once and for all that I am a perennial fucker-abouter and abandoner of dreams. It knows my inner fears. It can taste the dread of waking up on my nth dozen orbit and choking on my own tears, tears of laziness and unfulfilled promise and a talent wasted.
Right now I’m back to the starting blocks. I’ve coughed up bits and bobs of half-arsed wordmongery too lackadaisically, too sporadically. I’m definitely, CERTAINLY turning this shit around and making it a thing.
We’re approaching thirty days. I have around 25000 words of middling bullshit to show for it. It’s highly probable that this will help me achieve precisely nothing in the short term, but I recognise myself that it’s getting better. Some days are hard, others easier. I am the captain of this sentence ship, and we’re sailing toward the magical land of publishing. Mileage may vary. I may be getting older, more stretched, flabbier, rustier. I’ll only be truly fucked if I neglect to get better.