Monday, October 19, 2015

To write a book... or not.

I think I first wanted to be a writer when I was very young. I can remember writing short stories, things I hoped could expand to epic tales or novel series, on my parents old Macintosh computer. We may have still had dial-up internet at that time. On and off over the course of my life, I've taken up the hobby of writing. Poems, prose, short stories, never much longer than that. And journals. Lots and lots of hand-written journals, whereas most of everything else ended up on a computer.

I don't have it anymore. Any of it, except for what survived my archived files from college, and that's just some work from creative writing classes. Any other computerized writing never survived the many transfers from family system to family system, and I think at some point, I went and deleted anything that was so juvenile it seemed "embarrassing". Possibly the worst travesty is my decision earlier this year to purge all of my hand-written journals, the contents spanning thoughts from over ten years of my life. Sometimes I maintain that this was a wise decision to forge ahead and try to let go of past events that I may be lingering over too much, but I clearly do have some regret over it. I guess have some forgiveness to do.

Many years ago, I re-read an old journal and was depressed by what I'd written. I made a rule then, and stuck by it, that I would never read anything in my journal again after an entry was written. The only exceptions were to reference dates in the most current journal. I can think of very few times that I violated this rule. I considered a few years ago going through all of the journals to extract some entries and compile a memoir of sorts, but that option is lost to me now. Now it would be half-fiction, but maybe that's not such a bad thing.

The earliest story I can remember writing is one about the cat I grew up with. I wrote that my sister and I discovered Mourka could talk and that she lead us on some epic adventures. She introduced us to our neighborhood friend's cats, who could also talk, but had been hiding the ability until Mourka deemed it was appropriate. At some point in the course of the story, I knew I wanted Mourka to rescue us from a kidnapper and/or vise versa, but I never knew how to get from the introduction to the action, so I skipped ahead, thinking I would fill that in later. I never did, but I think the story ended up being something like 17 pages in Word (probably your old standard of 12 point font, Times New Roman). I'm still impressed with that.

Perhaps due to my own arrogance about my creative writing abilities, I never learned a good editing strategy. Maybe this is a more common flaw among writers than I seem to think. The only writers that I've ever spoken to were peers, who always sounded so much more confident than I was. They knew more technical terms to describe their story composition or writing methods, at least. Some that I have spoken to are published now, at least with articles somewhere online, or still seem to write regularly. I'll admit that other people's successes tend to scare me away from even trying.

The prevailing theme behind all of my fictional stories has been some kind of rescue. Whether that was someone else helping the main character, or the main character figuring shit out for themself, they'd get a happy ending. It was something I couldn't see for myself at times during my depressed adolescence and it made me feel better to write about it or imagine scenarios while it could about. It took me a long time to figure out that I had to rescue me, I had to write my own happy ending in life (though life is a journey, not a destination), and really accept that responsibility. I still struggle with it. So I imagine that any book I'd write would be kind of in a journal form, with entries spanning many years, and inspiring hope in any young, depressed readers who might come across it. That's what I'd want anyway.

So. Among my many endeavors, hopes, and ambitions in life, I am adding back "to write a book". It might never happen, but at least I can say I tried.