I’ve been writing a story today. It deals with family and loneliness and the spirit of youth. At least I think it does, so far. The rewrite might change that. But it has been a painstaking story to grasp.
The trouble I am having is that I, against all odds, grew up to be a reasonable individual. In recent years, I managed to let go – almost completely – of that youthful emotional roller coaster. I assume everyone went through it. Where your world ended if your favorite band broke up, where first love is the center of the universe and everything revolves around it. Where first heartbreak is greatest pain you will ever know.
I haven’t forgotten it. I am still able to touch it, to remember it. But Young Andy and I are at a disconnect. He’s a very emotional person, but it’s all on such a small-scale.
Young Andy didn’t know he wasn’t immortal. He didn’t know that the world was so much bigger than what he could see. He had no idea what forces were working around him, or what they were doing with their time.
At some point, I became a relatively sane person who is humbled when he stands before the cosmos, who has more questions than answers, and is both uncomfortable and relieved by that fact. Young Andy thought he could capture the universe and force it to bend to his will. …he’ll make a good antagonist at some point.
The story has actually caused a couple of other ideas to form, more reflections on youth, trying to tap into that elusive element that I lost at some point. In some ways, I am perfectly fine with letting that part of me go. There was an anger under the skin that can’t be put into words. A part of me what was so offended by the simplest things. A part of my soul that could sink into a depression that seemed endless.
I’m not saying I don’t still get angry or sad, that happens. You’re not human if you don’t feel, but it’s manageable. There are reasons, sometimes a bit ethereal, but there are still discoverable reasons for why I feel the way I do. I am a little amazed that I got this far in one piece.
The fortunate thing about writing stories in my genre is that there is always an element to escape into. Something to help you get away from the raw emotional horror that you have to face to be relatable.
Take The Shining for example. It deals with themes of alcoholism, self-doubt, failure, abuses of all sorts. The Torrance family is a veritable train wreck, and all of these things happen to the family before they ever get to the hotel. Sure, from that point everything gets crazy and all of those troubles get worse… but when you are writing something like that, when you get to the terrible monster terrorizing your protagonists, it gives you a chance to step out of your own head.
Sure, there’s a vision of a hotel lobby awash in the blood of hundreds, and yeah, you just implanted that vision into the mind’s eye of a child, but it wasn’t you that did that. It’s the spirit of the hotel. You are in the clear on that one.
It’s a bit of a stretch, hiding from your inner demons by seeking refuge with demons of another variety… but whatever works, right?