They say you write what you live and its probably true but its a truth I find infinitely depressing. It means what imagination I have beyond my experiences isn’t really beyond it at all, I’m merely escaping from what I have or what I lack. Ultimately, its still rooted in my life. For a budding writer realizing this truth coupled with how mundane my general day to day existence leaves for a not too comforting thought about the pattern of my future work, the already fore shadowed lack of drama or depth or emotional resonance. It seems like the past week has been setting itself up for me to come to this realization It just so happens that over the week too I’ve noticed two other writers suffer differing receptions to their work by those who read it and by those who inspire them and I can’t help but notice some parallels with my own work and experiences. The unfortunate part about this is that by bringing them to light I’m also publicly admitting to watching Gossip Girl.
The two writers I speak of are Dan Humphrey from Gossip Girl and Hank Moody the lead in Californication. Dan’s characters in Inside are thinly disguised versions of his friends and family and the events in the book are not too far from the antics they themselves have done. They liked the book or were indifferent until the moment they discovered who wrote it and the inevitable deduction concerning his source material. Its for that reason that my friends don’t know of my blog, it just wouldn’t be pretty. That however is nothing compared to Hank ‘I sleep with minors and write about it’ Moody. The character inspired by addict author Charles Bukowski and bad boy gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson had definately a strong reason to keep his authorship of Punching and Fucking secret. It is admittedly one hell of a story to tell. Let us forget about the anguish and the agonies they suffered as they waited for feedback, the reception to their bared souls and instead focus for this moment on their shenanigans and of those of those loved ones around them. If my earlier statement is true, then they have ample material to churn out a careers worth of work. Which brings me back to my dilemma- the lack of drama around me. If the week has been setting itself up for this realization then it has also set it up that I have a shot at correcting this now realized problem.
Toffel and I decided to head out to The Assembly’s Friday Discotheque Party. I had a hankering for some hard bass and to just let loose, something I hadn’t done in a while. A joint later and the tingles having settled we made way. Now I like to think that on a Friday night there are not many places better in Cape Town than The Assembly but that night as if to make it up to those who missed Deadmau5 the previous night the acts were on a whole different plane. This was definitely the place to be, there wasn’t a better place in the City, not that night at least. We’d barely just arrived and I was already on the dance floor (one hell of a feat) and it felt so good. There is no greater feeling than being high and feeling the tingles right down to your toes and deep into your bones and then feeling the waves of sound wash over you as the bass kicks in. I was rolling, tumbling and then the lights kicked in, or at least they were now in my sphere of recognition. Flashes of colour added to my already transcendent state. I was now flying. The few times I managed to gather my wits about me I tweeted; one a reminder ‘remember punching and fucking’, at that moment I was IN Californication and living it and another ‘Drunk fox afraid of blonde poppy! The horror,afraid of own food!’ just emphasized how baked I was. I mean really, we all know that mindless blonde poppies are to be feared but that is a truth that has become hidden behind desire, mankind’s urge for self mutilation and flagellation and an overwhelming amount of self loathing. For that fear to manage to pierce through that supposedly impenetrable wall meant I must have been really off my rocker. Amidst all this though I had a few epiphanies. One was that I was a dreamer. More content to imagine my books, my blog and the interactions in these worlds I’ve created than to actually write. The important part, was that I was a dreamer, there MUST be some imagination somewhere in that. I also kept on having visions of myself writing this and being aware that what I was experiencing at that moment I was actually writing too. So what was this, a story? A struggle for awareness? Was it real? So meta but I kind of jumped off the edge at the end there. It was fun, hell, it was mind blowing but a bit too much work for a story. I hope to god the statement is false and that I have an imagination beyond my experiences.
At the end of it all I happened to read an introduction by Stephen King in a revised edition of his book Gunslinger that seemed to capture my mood perfectly and also offer advice about how to deal with the whole situation. He seems to have had the same problem as I have and the same drive to write a great epic that moved not only him but those who read it too. And at 19 surrounded by Tolkiens’s elves and orcs, convinced of his own immortality he would have written Tolkien’s story all over again. At 22, a little wiser, a little jaded and having let his ardour for Tolkien’s world cool the strands of his magnum opus were formed. At 19 I too was convinced of my own immortality and general badassness, still am actually, but I now know I can be harmed and if worked well enough, broken. My head is no longer just filled with all things Potter or Middle Earth and had I written the books I wanted to write then, I’d have repeated Rowling’s work or another Middle Earth (as if there aren’t enough of them already). I hope to god that now, at 22 I too have begun to form strands of my own magnum opus and hope that like The Dark Tower, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter it is genre defining and world changing. As I finally begin to write my head filled with sparkling vampires, coked up bad boy writers and the antics of the Upper East Side elite I hope to god I don’t write their stories. – December 2011