I was out on a stroll for a couple of hours, and somewhere after the ambles through sharp and scratchy bramble, and a little around the time when school had finished and found myself waiting at a crossing with twenty of so sub-adults in matching uniforms, I found myself caring. It’s an odd feeling, something confusing and not at all familiar, but I can’t seem to decide when this phenomena occurred, and whether it was a good thing or not.
I didn’t care when I was a little boy, a fact which often led to me getting into trouble in one form or another. I would ask questions, bold questions, bright questions, regardless of the faces my Mother would pull while pretending to smile. I didn’t care because I wanted to know things, adults confused me, they demanded structure but were not structured in their actions. This didn’t sit very well in my open-eyed view of the world, so I did the only thing I could think of, I asked them why they did everything they did.
As a teenager the behaviour hadn’t lessened, but peoples patience with the questions most definitely had, so I stopped asking and started to just watch. I learnt that people who didn’t like questions would express themselves in a way that made sense, they would get mad. Teenagers who get mad like to tease, and in some cases they would hit you, but it didn’t help me much. All I had learnt was there were things people didn’t like you to pay attention to things, and certainly didn’t like you pointing these things out. This goes doubly so for adults.
As a child who has somehow managed to fool the world that i’ma actually an adult, I find myself worried about all sorts of things, and I can’t seem to point the finger at any specific thing. I’ve always felt a bit of an outsider, that i’m not really suited to be taken seriously, or that I will not manage to connect to another person in a way that is personal and passionate.
I’m worried about people understanding me, a feeling that has grown and shaped itself into a integral part of who I am, and one of the reasons I became a writer. Part of my writing is there to express all of the complexities in a way that sort of looks like me, but isn’t really. You just get a vague me shape there in your head.
I struggle that i’m weird, which I am, and often quite proud of it. I think the things I am worried about most, are the things which I know make me who I am, I just want to feel that it’s ok to feel that way. I am the strange one in the corner, book in hand, not really participating in all of the serious stuff.
I remember sitting in Nolinge, a wonderful strange little place in Stockholm where I worked on a beautiful horse yard, having the sudden thought that I might actually not want to work with horses. The thought filled me with fear and confusion, mainly because i had come to Sweden where I had landed a dream job, and secondly because I hadn’t really considered I could just change my mind and go after something I really wanted.
I had decided halfway through Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn that i’d really like to write, a prospect that had always been of interest, but one that completely scared me. I had written a fair amount of poetry as a boy, a few getting published, but somewhere along the line I had decided it was just too much.
Since starting my writing career, I have spent more and more time trying to figure out what went wrong, why it mattered so much to the boy who didn’t really care, and most importantly who made him care. As a writer there is a level of truth to all of your writing, you owe it to your readers to provide good work, and the best way to do that is to write something real; something that matters.
People have this idea that certain genres matter more than others, and in a way they are right, those genres matter more to them. Nobody can really tell you what makes good art, each presents their own wishy-washy tidbits, which is probably because they don’t really know. All great art seems to contain some continuity as you span the great works of literature, which is they contain some truth and heart. Everyone does their own little bit, but slightly different, and we read them and are in turn infected with a virus that demands we lie in a way we hope to be thanked for.
I find myself more and more open to the world and all of its scary bits, and I know that’s because I am walking around with my eyes open once more with the intent on writing good art, and I can’t really say i’m unhappy with the deal. I find myself slightly worried about strange ideas, but then i’m just a little more tuned to the reasons behind peoples terrible behaviour. The great thing is that writing offers me a canvas to throw everything at, and all of the interesting bits that stick get turned into a story.
I understand why people keep life at arms length, filling their quiet moments with swipes on their phones, and the odd pictures of cats. It’s scary, I think it always has been in one form or another, but that’s because it all looks so serious and important. People don’t really want to accept that they’re a speck in the infinite, with about as much power as a speck in the infinite, but for me I can’t help but love being a speck for that exact reason.
I am a firm believer in taking life as un-seriously as possible, it allows you to sift through the shit and the stuff you actually like, but those strange and serious people will try their hardest to stop you enjoying yourself, which is why books help. Serious people have little time for anything outside their perspective, and as a result are easily stumped by the prospect of sifting through your books.
There are those people throughout history who avoid this by simply taking your books and destroying them, which allows them to take control once more, but without any of the actual involvement or intimacy. We see this on small scale with the sniffs and stares of people catching us reading genres they don’t appreciate, and that’s alright. Nobodies asking them to understand, I don’t think we really know why ourselves, it just feels right.
My advice to anyone out there who is worried that they’re caring a little bit more, remember that it’s alright, but don’t take it too seriously if they don’t reciprocate the feeling. We owe it to ourselves to connect to the world, making it that little bit better, usually through what it is we love. You will be tempted to get a thick skin, and shove back with frustration, people will want you to settle down and stop day dreaming. It’s all bollocks.
You are you, all complexities and little idiosyncrasies, wrapped in a tiny strange bow, dragging your emotional baggage through the gravel. If there is one thing I have learnt is that if you pay attention, ask questions, people will pay attention. Some times will this be bad, other times it will be wonderful, and there are those times where people here you through the walls and rush to open a door of opportunity for you. Hold on to your dreams, cradle them and shelter them from the elements, and tell people about it as often as possible. If it’s scary it’s because it matters, don’t forget that, you owe it to the little child inside.
If you’ve liked what you read and want to support me while I make stuff up for a living then head over to my Patreon and give me some money to buy a coffee or a pen or something. If not I hope you’ve done something creative today, and try and share it, who knows you may just encourage someone else to try something.