Archive for writing

A comparatively reasonable post

Posted in personal with tags , on January 9, 2014 by theweirdphilosopher

It is one of my sore points that I have failed writing. But for all my claims that I´m a failure and for all my arguing that writing tips cannot help me, I never admitted to myself that I see something wrong with my writing.

 

I cannot separate my writing from myself. It was never a discipline which I had to conquer if I wanted to claim it for myself. It was part of my anatomy. To dislike my writing is to dislike myself. Not that it doesn´t happen quite regularly.

Writing was never something I could feel enhanced me or made me a more experienced person, someone who had learned and evolved in the process. It wasn´t a process I underwent that left me beatified and wiser. And yet I jealously claimed it for myself – maybe precisely because I couldn´t get that fundamental experience out of it. I feel unworthy.

I feel unworthy because I never put proper effort in my writing. I wrote the way I knew how to write and I alternately demanded and angsted that/if this was good enough, but I would never seriously have considered the idea that my writing could be better. I never truly worked to convey that special spark that I felt when thinking up stories, I only waited for the ability to communicate it to come.

This is not about pleasing others. It is about communicating, putting to paper the thing that made me live in this story and become the characters.

Writing tips indeed do not reach the core of this problem. This is not about writing an objectively good text or pleasing an audience, it is about getting across precisely the feelings the story evoked in me when it came to my mind. It is difficult, as what is so evocative typically is the story´s summary which comes in form of a drastic contrast or a bittersweet message. The question I really need to ask myself is how to draw that out over the course of the entire story. There will be many single feelings and emotion-ridden scenes, but how do I make the final picture, from a step away,  evoke what I want it to evoke? And this is the part I never worked at hard enough. I wrote one scene that conveyed it all, and then I gave up. I´m good at writing symbolic first paragraphs with tons of foreshadowing, but I feel I´m ruining everything by writing anymore.

The thought that writing could become something manageable, something I know how to do, is very exciting.

Feeling in analogies, and what are feelings anyway?

Posted in health, mental health, personal, philosophy with tags , , on February 25, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

I´m not sure but could it be that I don´t understand what feelings are? I´m actually asking my readers here because I don´t see how i could answer this question myself.

When I talk about how I feel, is what I talk about what you would describe as feelings? Or could it be that I´m always talking about beliefs and thoughts? Do I often say things like “I feel like I am actually a bad person”? And is that anything other than “I wonder if I believe or should believe that I´m a bad person”? Is that a feeling?

Maybe I only understand feeling in the way some people say “I have a feeling it might rain today!” Feelings as intuitions, possible truths, assumptions which you have without being able to pin down why. I feel like I´m caught in a cage made up of such assumptions and I´m using my mind as a rasp to wear down the bars. But here I´m doing it again. “I feel like…” I only ever feel in analogies. What I´m saying is “in my mind my situation resembles the situation of a person who…” It is a way to communicate because it evokes images and feelings in others. But that´s not very straightforward, is it? I can talk about feelings without knowing exactly what it is that I feel. And once I ask myself how I know what a person in a cage would feel like my confusion is complete.

When I did that mind in the eyes test I solved it by thinking of different situations. “That person looks like a person who is annoyed at his friends´ idiocy.” I identify feelings by putting them into the context of a story. Give me a picture of a person and I´ll tell you a story about her, but don´t expect me to just say “she feels sad/angry/happy”. I might be able to judge that somehow, but I´ll feel like I have no real information. Like I´ve said nothing of significance. Without a backstory and lots of information, those words don´t make sense to me.

I wrote a few months ago how conversations between me and Dr. Stoneface played out. He asked me how I felt. I answered with a complicated analogy or picture. He tried to put it into a conventional emotional term. I couldn´t agree with him for the life of me. The best way to describe the feeling I had in such moments is “just NO”. I guess “just no” is not a feeling, but maybe it will help others understand what kind of feeling I had. I guess it´s more of a feeling than the analogies my mind produces. It could be interesting to look for more such reactions in me.

My reaction to what I write right now is somewhere along the lines of: “Tricky!” If it was said out aloud, it would be slightly amused recognition, like when you see through someone´s tricks but it entertains and somewhat moves you how hard he tries and how sophisticated his attempts are. Yes, another analogy. I take this as a signal that I´m trying to achieve something else by writing this. Like I´m trying to cheat.

Do feelings tell you the truth? If I feel like I´m cheating, am I cheating? The typical answer to this seems to be that if I feel like something is wrong, there probably is. My typical reaction is that I look for something until the feeling stops and there is a sense of satisfaction. But is that an indicator of truth? It is, once again, an analogy. “I feel like I´m cheating.” An intuition. Maybe it doesn´t come from my heart but from my head. Maybe something about my argument is shaky and that makes me uneasy. Maybe I feel uncomfortable because I´m not sure yet of what I write here and yet I make tentative claims. Maybe my claims aren´t tentative enough. Yes, I believe it is an intellectual discomfort. I have no idea, though, how I came to that belief. It just was there. And you can guess how uncomfortable THAT makes me. Do I have any arguments to support my claim? No. Just a vague – feeling. And do feelings tell the truth?

I have a couple of thoughts going on in my head now. I thought about writing. I think I don´t just express my feelings through analogies, I also express them through stories and sort them out with the help of daydreams. It´s not so much expressing and sorting out, maybe, than it is exorcising. I have a feeling of existential loneliness, I write a story about the last man on earth, the pressure is gone. This may be why I cannot stop writing, but at the same time I cannot plan to write. I don´t think I could make writing my profession. I need something else to occupy my mind. Something that is my life. Writing just happens. My writing gets better when I don´t think.  I always had the strong feeling that I cannot “just” be a writer. I need another job, and one that gives me something intellectually. I used to distrust that feeling and try to convince myself that I want to be “just a writer”, but I will forever fail at that. Now, see, that was another instance of me feeling. A stubborn idea. Or maybe just another intuition.

I might have been dealing with these intuitions the wrong way. It´s like this: I have plenty of them. Plenty intuitions, assumptions, possible truths. And to those I react with something that could, in the most primitive sense, be described as pleasure and displeasure.

Instinctive assumption: “I need to find a profession where I feel at home and at ease, besides being a writer!” Reaction: Somewhere between pleasure and displeasure, either burning hope and yearning or fear, despair and frustration.

Instinctive assumption: “I have a personal vendetta going against psychotherapy and therefore all my thoughts about it are distorted to fit my agenda!” Reaction: Extreme displeasure. Impotent rage, despair, nagging feeling that it´s true.

What can my reactions to these assumptions tell me about the assumption? In the first case, the answer might be that very much depends on me finding such a profession and realizing this plan. Actually, my reaction might tell me that this is my life dream, my implicit conception of the right way to live, and that I should try to realize it. Which is all fair and well if you can also tell me how to overcome the terrible fear that I´ll fail.

What does my reaction tell me about the second assumption? You know what reaction I have to that question right now? Kind of “ugh!” Not that again. I can´t be arsed right now, so I won´t discuss it. The simplest answer might be that my reaction tells me I need to look into the subject. It´s something that is important to me and therefore ignoring it is pointless, even though I´m getting on everyone´s nerves with it, including my own.

Listening to your feelings seems to be a remarkably simplistic strategy once you´ve figured out what feelings are. I´m not sure I can get used to this. I don´t like to base my decisions on feelings. But reason can be quite misguiding. There are good arguments for many life choices, after all. I´d like to have arguments that go beyond “I felt like it”, but maybe “I feel like it” is the most important argument sometimes.

I don´t like things that cannot be reasoned for, against or with. I could probably give you good reasons for that, but in its essence this dislike, ironically, is a feeling, too. When someone tells me to “listen to my heart”, I´m like “ick! go away!”. Yeah, “like”. Like a five year old boy who´s supposed to give Auntie a kiss. Feeling in analogies works for me. It makes for good writing, or at least the best writing I can do. It means, however, that I´ll never get rid of my daydreaming. I need to take care, though, that I don´t believe in my analogies. I might feel like someone has beaten me numb, but that doesn´t mean that at some point in my life I have physically experienced such a thing. The line between analogy and imagination blurs easily. Since I feel in analogies, I can easily transfer my own feelings onto situations I have not physically been in. It has been torturing me for years whether or not I´m right about how people in these situations feel. It´s probably why I took the empathy test and why I took it so seriously. This leads way too far right now, though.

I´ll try to sum up what I figured out about myself today:

1) I feel in analogies. I always feel like [insert drastic or not so drastic image].

2) I´m not really motivated to change how I perceive my emotions. Whenever I come to the conclusion that it would be impossible anyway I feel strong relief.

3) I enjoy looking for just the right analogy. Finding it has me go all like “hell yes!” It´s almost physically satisfying.

4) Writing about stuff or staging conversations with imaginary allies in my head does more for me than talking to actual people. At least I´m much more comfortable with it. It´s so incredibly me.

I doubt this is in any way coherent, so if it doesn´t make sense to you, it´s not you, it´s me.

 

Little differences – a theory of everything me

Posted in health, mental health, morbid, personal, philosophy with tags , , , , , , on January 3, 2013 by theweirdphilosopher

It´s hard enough to be different from the majority of people in one way. I´m realizing lately, though, that I am different in more than one way. I tried to come up with a list, but I doubt it´s complete.

1) Officially brighter than average, and also coming from a home with many books and a whole lot of intellectual nourishment. Also, that seems to go with it: Heightened sensitivity.

2) Dysfunctional or at least fairly unusual family background.

3) Sexual deviation.

I deliberately left out “mental health issues”, because I´m starting to wonder if much of my issues might simply be down to me having to struggle with those three major differences, starting when I was little. I keep on looking for the answers within myself, but those differences are a fact and so far I have been shamefully neglecting their potential impact on my life (apart from, maybe, difference number 2). I don´t think I´m doing myself a favor there. So let´s take a look at these now.

1) In elementary school, I was some kind of Wunderkind to the other kids. I did things with ease which they only managed to do through hard work, if at all. I remember them learning for a dictation, and suddenly I found myself repeating by heart the text we were supposed to prepare. They were gawping at me in wonder. I couldn´t help notice that I was special in some way.

In fifth grade, I was best friends with a girl who struggled with German, as it wasn´t her mother tongue. She could speak it very well, but she always got bad grades on her essays. When we got back another graded essay, she started to cry in frustration and began kicking the desk in front of her. I had an A+, the only one. The teacher asked the class for a round of applause for me, and they obliged, all while my best friend was still crying over her grade. I was sitting there with my head lowered, frozen in shame. This situation wasn´t really my fault, the teacher was just incredibly insensitive, but I couldn´t help thinking how much my best friend had to hate me. I could see myself through her eyes: sitting there smugly with yet another A, what the hell does she know, that spoiled brat, she´s never suffered in her life, and now she can´t even be bothered to smile! I felt like it was damned if you do, damned if you don´t. I couldn´t cheer, not with her sitting there like this, but I had no right to share her grief. I was doing well, wasn´t I? What business did I have moping?

Throughout my time at school, the main lesson was that I was privileged. I was better off than the other kids, and I always had to cope with this somehow. Often I felt like a person who would best be invisible. At other times I cultivated some kind of arrogance. Not my problem if they are dumb. At the root of both, however, was shame. I´m not even sure what exactly I was and am ashamed of, but it is the same kind of shame I felt so strongly during the episode with that essay. I repeatedly found myself in situations in which I couldn´t overlook the fact that I was somehow better than those around me, while knowing fully well how inacceptable that idea was. What I was taught, after all, and what I wanted to believe was that we are all equal. It seemed to me as if I was guiltlessly guilty.

I think this basic conflict has developed in many different directions over the years, but I can´t follow all of them right now, so I´ll leave it there and move on to 2).

2) My family has always been very politically involved. This alone distinguished us from a society which, after some left-leaning decades, was swinging back towards neo-conservatism and political indifference when I grew up. I learned that there was a rift between us and “others”. We were “critical”, we thought for ourselves, we cared about peace and freedom and the environment, while the rest of the world largely consisted of sheeple. We were politically correct. A joke I had heard in kindergarten could get me into trouble at home.  A stern look from my father, a sad, chiding “that´s not a very funny joke”, and I felt such deep shame that I didn´t know how to cope. Sometimes I reacted with defiance and outrage, at other times I tried to justify myself or take back what I had said.

At the same time, my family was areligious, not respecting at all of anybody´s faith, and not shy to say it, at least not at home. This, too, clashed with everything I learned “out there”, in the world, where I was taught I had to respect other peoples´faith even though I didn´t share it. I could see both sides. I understood that I mustn´t hurt people by ridiculing their faith (and I was frightened I might accidentally do it and get shamed for it), and at the same time I knew why my parents were so anti-religion: Because in the name of religion speech was censored, women were oppressed and freedoms were restricted. Freedoms I believed in.

For my tenth birthday, my best friend gave me a picture with Jesus on it. According to what my parents had indirectly taught me I was supposed to be angry she “shoved her religion down my throat”, but I could sense the good intention and her appreciation of me behind that action (she was ten, goodness!). I accepted the picture (still have it, actually), even tried to believe and pray, but that didn´t really work for me. Often, I tried to be a “good person”, the way I found them in some TV shows or books designed to teach kids values which are fairly close to Christian ideals. This was something I carefully kept away from my parents, though. I knew I would get shamed for trying to be brave, humble and altruistic. They would simply regard it as a show, or as a game I was playing. And despite this, despite me even building a mythology of my own a couple of years later, I always labeled myself an atheist and defended atheism. Also, I laughed cynically at the idea of bravery, altruism and humility and told people in my “values class” at school that we don´t even have a free will, or that the common moral ideals are nonsense. I meant it, and I delighted in their indignation. Those two sides of me were so separate that whenever I was on one side, I seemed to forget I´d ever been on the other.

I could give a million more examples, but essentially my upbringing created a rift between my family and the rest of society, and somehow I had to try and adapt to both worlds. I feel like someone who´s been brought up in two different cultures. I´m rooted in two sets of values, attitudes, ideas; and most of the time they harshly contrast. Picture a child who was torn apart between two fighting parents. I´ve spent many years trying to find out which position is the right one, and, as a consequence, which side of me is my true self and which one is fake, but I think that was the wrong approach. I´m merely continuing a fight which I didn´t pick. I´m both now. I´m the callous sociopath and the sensitive martyr. Go crucify me.

Again, it would be extremely interesting to take a deeper look at the consequences of this conflict, but let me just leave it here: I had to adapt to two contrasting systems of belief, I had to find out how to behave in each given situation, and I ended up being very scared of and insecure in a world which, down to my other two differences, was never an easy place for me to live in anyway.

3) Yeah, I´ve been looking forward to that one. Under sexual deviation I sum up: A) Me being lesbian. B) Me being into BDSM (and above everything else, I have to be a bloody switch! Is nothing ever easy??). I´ll leave out the “issues”, once again, as I don´t accept them as a given, other than the first two. Maybe they are something that can be resolved. So.

I think my being different from other kids in terms of sexual development started to show very clearly when we all hit puberty. Suddenly my best friends (female) were falling in love with random guys, talking about them all day, while to me it were those friends themselves who meant most to me. While I did have my own private fantasy life where I dreamt of the perfect guy (perfect for me, that is), I found myself unable to fall for any guys IRL (though not for a lack of trying). I was starting to worry that something was fundamentally wrong with me, that I was unable to fall in love, that I was somehow twisted and distorted. When my friends talked about how some guy or some movie character was “sooo cute” I sometimes tried to join in, but I felt like a hypocrite. I was wondering if I had feelings at all.

What I was interested in, in turn, made me look childish, if not grotesque. Somewhere on the knife´s edge between childhood and puberty there was period of time when my best friend and I were fascinated with murder and torture, and we spent a lot of time discussing what we could do to others, and what my best friend could do to me. Without ever saying it openly, we accepted that she was the one in power and that my life was always on the line (yes, I thoroughly enjoyed that). It was our last game before she suddenly grew too old for make-believe. She returned from her summer holidays and everything had changed. Suddenly I was getting on her nerves when I brought up our old topics. Suddenly that was “childish”. She didn´t call me a sick freak, didn´t run for her life, no. It´s just that she found me embarrassing. I was an embarrassment.

Having no more allies, I let it all out writing stories. I wrote some ghoulish stuff, some of it good, some of it bad. The good stuff impressed, the bad stuff alienated people. Writing flat, gory stories about torture and mutilation seemed so out of character for me. So unsubtle, so insensitive, so low-brow. I was certainly better than that, wasn´t I? The sad climax was a lecture by my father about how nobody wanted to read negative stuff like that. He said a whole lot more than that, but I can´t quite remember it. The basic lesson, however, was once again that I was inappropriate. That I rubbed people the wrong way. Once again, I felt like the people I was addressing were ashamed on my behalf.

In retrospect, I can see that I must have been obtrusive in some way. I was trying to connect to people, but I was using the sledgehammer approach (yes, pun intended). Writing crude, gory stories was my version of making immature sex jokes. It was kind of hard to recognize, though. There is a script of sexual development for normal people. There is none for sadists yet, and so there was basically no one who could take me by the hand and say: “Look, I can see this is a difficult age for you, and maybe you need to write those stories right now, and I wish you had some real close friends who laugh and enjoy them and plot the annihilation of mankind with you! I´m sorry I cannot be this person, but like many others, I find such visions pretty disturbing! Maybe step back a little when dealing with normal people, so you don´t get hurt all the time. I´m sure you´ll find a way in which you can express yourself, and people who love you just for who you are, though it may take some time! Being a teenager always sucks, it just sucks in a different way for you!”

Essentially, being who I was, I had nowhere to go for guidance (this was before I got Internet access). And I would have needed a lot of it. One the one hand I seemed to have no normal feelings, I didn´t seem to be a teenager at all – where were the crushes, the immature sex jokes, my awakening sexual desire? On the other hand, I had a whole lot of feelings which were absolutely not normal, and plenty of desires and fantasies which just seemed sick, deranged and embarrassing to me. I never knew how to tell my story, how to label what was happening to me and how to judge where I was in terms of development and growing up. It´s hard forming an identity that way, or gaining any sense of self at all.  Having figured out these three differences I´m in a much better position to understand my story now. They might not explain everything, I may have to revisit a whole lot of things, but all in all those difference are real and they are vital.

I judged myself and told my story through the lense of many theories which don´t seem to accept those differences as a given. I cannot just be a sadist (and masochist), it doesn´t stand without explanation, there must be an underlying problem, a secret that can be exposed and then sadomasochism won´t be part of my identity anymore. It is something forced upon me through nasty childhood experiences, not a natural part of my true self (should such a thing even exist). Also, I cannot just be saint and sinner in one and the same body. Either I´m an innocent victim who grew up in a terrible family, or I´m a terrible person who masks as a normal human being with empathy and feelings. One of my two sides has to be a mask, a false self which needs to be stripped away, and I´m terrified of who I´ll turn out to be. And last but not least, intelligence makes no difference whatsoever. If I was really all that clever, I should be able to cope with the world and not offend people left and right. I should have social skills. If I can´t do that, then something has to be fundamentally wrong with me, and intelligence is definitely not the cause of my problems. It has no bearing on my personality and my experience, it is just a little extra which I unfortunately happened to build my identity around since I didn´t have anything else to offer. I´m blatantly and narcissistically overestimating its importance. It is not a valid difference. It doesn´t warrant looking at my case any differently. I´m an intelligent monster, but I´m still a monster. No way in the world my perspective and my behavior might be normal for a person like me.

I can still hear these accusations ringing in my head. I cannot force anybody to accept the differences I named as a given. There will be plenty of people who contradict and question the identity I´m trying to carve out here, and there will be nothing I can do about it except remind myself that I have no obligation to let their opinions define me. I lately realized that I lack this ability, the ability to separate myself from what people say about me. Maybe this, too, has to do with my lack of a stable identity, which is in turn the result of my lack of role-models and precedents. Maybe I´m more vulnerable to self-doubts than people who don´t share my differences.

I´m not sure how I´ll deal with it when my insecurities are touched. I´m not sure how I´ll deal with my own deeply ingrained self-accusations. Nothing is solved. Everything might just go on the way it did. This may be a breakthrough. This may be a little step on the way. I´m just trying not to get my hopes up too high.

 

The cruel roots of writing and society´s unwillingness to be tortured – or something like that

Posted in morbid, personal, rants with tags , , , on October 31, 2012 by theweirdphilosopher

I´ve just had a perfect inner monologue going, but it seems impossible to write it down systematically as it involves too many great questions and answers which all seem to be entangled with each other. And yet I feel obliged to try. I´ll just start somewhere, then.

I´m being torn apart between resigning myself to being a cynic or going on looking for some deep, authentic sincerity inside of me. I understand this needs explaining. Take this example: Some people believe there is such a thing as a dream job, and the dream job is not just a great or prestigious job, but something that helps you fulfill your mission in this world. Which requires that you have some kind of mission. That there is something you were born to do. And then there are others who think that most people who got great jobs got them by accident and grew into who they became. They weren´t meant to be – whatever, a successful start-up founder – it just so happened that they became successful founders. It´s not like their path had been laid out in front of them through divine revelation (or tons of soul-searching) some time in their early twenties. It was made by walking, and they never knew what would be around the next corner. In fact, they created it, and they could have done something entirely different. It´s not like they found their true mission in life and everything else would have been false and misguided. They might just as easily have become artists, and that would have been just as right.

As much as I rationally favor this second, “cynical” opinion, I cannot seem to stop searching. Emotionally, I need the belief that there is one true way for me and that I can find it. In a way, this is nothing but trying to get around making decisions. If only one way is right, and if this is absolutely clear and obvious, then there is no reason to choose a different path. If there is more than one way, and they are all equally worthwhile, making a decision feels like cutting myself off from life. Not even because it might be the wrong decision in the sense that my life could go awry. Or well, maybe in some way. But it´s not the only problem. It just feels as if I´m deciding on what not to use my abilities, and I can´t help wonder if I´m wasting them. Should I write when I could be a scientist? Should I write when I could be an entrepreneur?

It is interesting, and I´m only realizing this now, that I always seem to be thinking of “more worthwhile” stuff I ought to do instead of writing. “But…I´m fairly smart, why don´t I try to cure AIDS instead? Everybody can tell a bloody story, and even if they can´t, it´s not such a great loss!” It makes me uneasy how self-important this sounds, and often I think that it would solve all my problems if I was a self-conscious little girl who is humbled by every tiny bit of success because she always expected to fail. But I´m also sick and tired of being modest when it means that I cannot even admit to myself what my problem is. If I´m really that arrogant then the world ought to see it so at least they don´t mistakenly like me for something I´m not.

So, yeah. My problem with finding a life mission is that I think I can do nearly everything, and I don´t know which problem is worthy of my skills. I´m just fairly convinced that writing is not. I could never feel that awe and respect for literature some people seem to feel. For single works, yes, but not for LITERATURE as a whole. So it doesn´t seem okay to see writing as my whole life mission. It is something I want/need to do while I do something else, but not as my main occupation. I wouldn´t respect myself if I was only a writer, and this is coming from someone who hasn´t even finished a single novel. Quite rich.

Maybe this is not so much of an attitude problem on my part, but on society´s part. Maybe society just doesn´t respect writing a whole lot. Sentences like: “Yeah, everyone can do that!” are not coming out of nowhere. Writers are some kind of luxury, they are there for entertainment. If we lived in a world that fears their writers…

To be honest, I don´t know exactly where that came from, but it captures something important. If books could scare people, if people were frightened to get caught up in a book because they don´t know what it might do to them, if they were scared of what a book might tell them about themselves, if institutions lived in fear of how they are judged in the latest novels…if a book could be a public event of the magnitude of 9/11…

I´m not a nice writer, in fact, I´m a highly sadistic one. I read that´s okay, you have to be mean to your characters to write gripping stories, but for me, characters are just a means to an end. It´s the reader I want to get at. It´s him I want to play god with. And I use myself as a human guinea pig to test my ideas. If I shudder and wince and wish it wouldn´t happen, it´s probably good. Writing is the sublimest display of my ugliest face.

I´m hardly the only writer who´s like this. I guess many others would say the same thing, and sure there are some who would merely use nicer words. They might say they want to move the reader. But moving the reader does seem to imply drawing him in, getting him attached to some character and then cutting him a wound, even though you might stitch it back up in the end and bandage it with a big, fat happy ending.

I have a feeling, though, that readers are not really willing to be toyed with. Maybe they once were, but they aren´t really, today. They want to be smart, stoical, blasé. They don´t like to be moved. They´d rather look like cynics. Sometimes I feel like authors are waging a silent war against readers who think they have seen it all.  Maybe not all readers, no. I think what I´m having in mind here, though quite implicitly, is a sophisticated audience. Intellectual readers. It would be such a compliment to inspire them to awe or stunned silence, but it is in their nature to talk. They always want to outsmart you and then condescendingly praise you for how well or skilled your novel is constructed. You could write in your own blood and you would´t get an honest, emotional reply from them. I think it´s this, the public way literature is dealt with which discourages me so much. It´s what makes me feel that, as a writer, I´m a lesser being. The intellectual public simply refuses to let books move them. The single individuals, privately, might be moved, but in public they´ll always try to say something “smart” that reduces your writings to a footnote in literary history. They deny you the effect you have been searching for, and that is demoralizing. It feels like they´re playing with unfair means, because they wouldn´t admit they´re moved if they were choking down tears. It has nothing to do with literary quality.

With a public like this, writing is almost inevitably ineffectual. How are you ever going to feel like you´ve made an impact on the world? Feeling like you have no impact on the world is nothing “personal success” (fame, talk show invitations, fans and followers) can ever make up for.

 

 

A rant about my life, and what writing means to me (inofficially: Polishing up the facade, part 2)

Posted in personal, rants with tags , , , , on October 18, 2012 by theweirdphilosopher

Self-harm triggers!

Almost a year ago I wrote a post called Polishing up the facade – part 1. I never wrote a part 2, but you can regard this as a follow-up, even though I´m at a point where I´m trying to polish up a facade which is barely even standing anymore.

I´m still busy selecting kitchen files and arguing with my parents (this noon it was my father who woke me up asking me about stuff and reminding me of things I had already explained to and discussed with my mother), and in the meantime my tutor (yes, I finally found a tutor for my thesis!) is writing me an e-mail telling me there´ll be a meeting with all of his students next week, so I will have to come up with some kind of list of references and a preliminary outline for my thesis to cover up for the fact that I haven´t been working on it so far. Additionally, I´m broke and it´s only the middle of the month. I have some birthday money left that should prevent me from starving, but I also have a dentist bill to pay. Maybe I can delay that until next month. No need to mention, by the way, that my room is still full of bottles.

For the last couple of days I´ve been having abdominal cramps which increased whenever somebody said something to me. At the same time, my thoughts were racing crazily. Uncharacteristically for an emetophobic I never even worried that this was a physical condition. It was blatantly obvious it was down to stress. I just had no idea what the hell to do about it that didn´t involve homicide. I did experiment a bit. I actually considered starting to cut again, not on impulse but deliberately like daily exercise, because my psyche is going to turn against my body in one way or the other, and I´d rather cut and get scars than have cramps and get Morbus Crohn. I´ve never been terrifically efficient at cutting, though, so I more or less dropped the idea.

I don´t think the whole moving/uni/being broke shit wouldn´t stress me out so much if it weren´t for the underlying problem. I know, after all, that I can move furniture, write papers and get a job. The underlying problem is that I don´t know why the hell I should be doing any of this. I just don´t want to. I don´t want to get a job. I don´t care what job it is. It could be the job of my fucking dreams, if that existed.

It´s not like I think all the jobs out there are boring. Actually, I find new interesting things every day. As long as I can explore it from afar, I find the world of work fairly fascinating. I just don´t want to be part of it.

Something about working feels like an insult. It doesn´t really matter whether it´s working as a waiter or as a manager. It just feels terrible that out there my only value as a person is in what way I can be useful to somebody else, and if I´m more useful than my competitors. That´s not because I´m stupid or lazy or shy of competition. I´ve won some competitions and lost others, but I am capable of competing.

I´m not lazy, either. Actually, I keep a remarkable amount of projects running. I have a comedy blog I post on daily, a football blog on which I compose detailed analyses of all our matches, another blog on which I´m writing a satire about two students and their first encounters with “the real world”, and actually I´m also working on a crime novel (I have about 80 pages written and I started last month). Lazy?

Any reasonable person would tell me to drop some of these projects to reduce my stress, but I can´t. I absolutely can´t. They are my only hope. If I succeed with any of them, maybe I will get around having to work, or at least I will get around confusing myself with a my work. Working itself is not such a chore to me. I don´t feel like going there, and there will be days when I´m constantly looking at the clock, but there are other days when it´s just fine, even in the boring jobs I´ve been doing. The problem is that I did those jobs knowing this wasn´t my life yet. Actually, I was a student, and studying would lead to something great. Yeah, but to what? Like I said, I do not want a job (well, sure, I don´t want to be unemployed and starving, but I do not dream of a job). Unfortunately, studying most likely will lead to a job, unless you start a company of your own, and for that I should have studied computer sciences.

I realize that as soon as I´m done studying I´ll be expected to get a job. Because that´s how you earn money, right? And then I won´t have time or energy anymore to work on my projects, and I´ll be sitting at work all day thinking: “So, when is this over so I can get started with my life?”, and then I´ll think: “Well, damn, this is my life!”

I don´t want to come to that. I wouldn´t quite kill myself to avoid it, but I´d do a lot of things below that. At least I think so now. I´d like to believe that I´d pick a shitty part-time job just in order to survive and still have enough time to work on my projects, but I´m extremely scared that I´ll start looking for high-end careers (and having the grades and a bourgeouis upbringing maybe even get one) because if I´m going to have to work anyway I might as well do something prestigious so at least people assume I picked a better life then them.

Maybe I´m being too hard on myself, it might well be that I´ll look into interesting careers because if I have to work I might as well work on something interesting. At any rate, though, it might be the end of what really matters to me. Because I´d always and forever feel like a failure if I pursued my projects just as hobbies. I always wanted to succeed with them. Be seen. I never wanted the rather private success of earning a lot of money in a prestigious job. I wanted to be a public figure who is seen and heard and listened to. Not in the sense that people do as I tell them, but in the sense that people are interested in what I have to say. Or write; I wouldn´t want to be bothered by paparazzi all the time.

I used to think that means I´m just in it for the fame and that I´m terribly superficial and actually don´t have to say anything at all. If that really was so, however, I´d have given up long ago because I get zero recognition for the work I do. I don´t even get encouragement. And yet I´ve been writing for years.

Sometimes all I want is someone who believes in me and likes what I do. Someone to say: “Have you been writing again? Can I read it?” And I can say: “Here it is, and let me know what you like and what bugs you!” Someone to ask me questions about my characters, and the story, someone who thinks aloud with me about what some character´s real motive might be. There are forums for that on the Internet, but I don´t want to publish my drafts for everyone to see. I´d like to have some guarantee that no one will steal my ideas. Besides, I need someone in flesh and blood, someone I can talk to. Preferrably someone who doesn´t write himself, as there is always competition among writers.

I used to be part of some mentoring program after winning a writing contest when I was a teen, but I strongly disliked the mentors. They were bossy, self-righteous and I felt like if I succeeded it would be their success, not mine, so I dropped out. Career-wise it was a giant mistake, as they had all the connections, but to me it felt like a matter of integrity.

The big problem with me and writing is that I must write as a form of rebellion. If I had sponsors or a scholarship or something like that, I couldn´t write anymore. I´d start writing something else, maybe, but not the book I´m supposed to write. At the moment I´m writing so terribly much because I´m supposed to be doing something else, and because I feel like this is my last chance at succeeding with writing before I will be swallowed up by a job.

I know many writers have their “day job”, but somehow I feel like I cannot do this. I´d feel defeated. Like someone else had won. I´d have to perform badly at my dayjob to make clear this is not who I really am.

If I translate this into psychological problems, in what way has that person won? What has been proven? That I have to subject myself to the logic of usefulness. That I cannot and will not be loved unless I´m useful. That this is an inescapable truth, a law of the world. Succeeding with my writing (both fictional and personal or philosophical stuff) might prove that the opposite is true.

Or maybe not even that I am loved for who I am, because few people who read what I write would know me personally. But it would mean that I can, just with my own mind, experiences and personality, can create something of value. I don´t have to work on someone else´s ideas. I can realize my own, and people appreciate them.

I believe one person who would have won if I fail as a writer would be my father. He has in one way or the other always discouraged me from writing because it is so hard to succeed, and that in order to succeed you have to write what people want to read. That always demoralized me, because my sole motivation for writing always was that I want people to like my ideas. Writing what I think others want would completely miss the point. Writing is a medium for my thoughts and feelings. If people don´t want them, they don´t want me. Writing according to some recipe just so I´m successful and sell a lot of books and get publicity would be so hollow and pointless. Of course I want success, tons of it, but with my own ideas and on my own terms.

I´ve been wondering why I need that kind of success so much, why I need my ideas and thoughts and feelings to be valued so much. I thought this made me superficial and vain, and maybe it does mean I´m missing something, but if I do, then what I miss is the most basic appreciation: That my own ideas and thoughts are worth something.