Synthesis and Simulacrum

I’m going to begin Four Antecedents with two vignettes I wrote two years ago. At the time, they formed part of an anthology I was writing with my then-business partner. We composed seven stories apiece, each relating to one of the biblical Deadly Sins. Clichéd, I know, but it was fun and useful to build some creative momentum.

The two I’m posting, Synthesis and Simulacrum, refer to envy and sloth, two experiences very close to the darker side of writing. Some of my other entries into the anthology were comedic (and might see the brighter walls of this blog in the future), but these two tales, whether time has treated them well or lent them to entropy, are based on my very own demons.

Synthesis is about a woman named Mel who goes to see an aerial performance at a theatre with her friends. At first, she’s bored and unimpressed, but the skills of the artists grow on her, and as she returns again and again to the same performance, she becomes enamoured with them to the detriment of her social and familial lives.

Writing is inherently a selfish endeavour. Writers must often abandon the traditional aspects of life and sometimes even turn their backs on friends and family to complete something that carries no guarantee of success or reward. Some balance this trade off better than others, but no writer is immune, and some even suffer the same fate as poor Mel; forever wishing themselves among the stars but never coming down to Earth.

Simulacrum is a little less dire, but perhaps just as visceral to the aspiring author. It tells the story of Jane, a writer whose portfolio claims no greater honour than a few short pieces graced by a local literary magazine. One day, she discovers a story that reads exactly like hers and begins an imaginary feud with its creator. The problem is, he might be more like her than she’s willing to accept.

Living in the shadow of others is something we can all relate to. It doesn’t matter how good you are, someone’s always better, they say. For the artists, from writers and painters to actors and musicians, finding out your brilliantly original idea is doing its fifth tour as a Broadway remake of a movie based on a novel can be devastating. Just remember; no story is untold, no painting unseen, no song unheard. They’re all built on the same foundation, but how they engage with their audience is always unique.

Welcome

Hello.

I’m a writer.

Actually, I only believe I’m a writer. By today’s standard measures of a writer, I perform rather poorly. I make no money from my craft, I’m unknown to the community, I’ve left no trail in literary circles, and I can’t stand the pressure of public speaking. I’ve never had any work published. In fact, I’ve never even completed a manuscript. My longest work reached the lofty pinnacle of just sixty thousand words before I decided it was rather tedious, and no other has surpassed the mire of the thirty-thousand-word novella.

In short; I suck at writing.

People often ask me why I haven’t finished “that book” yet. I’ve had long enough, right? It should be in the hands of at least an agent by now, or on the plates of a publishing house with my second in the hands of the editor. So, why haven’t I finished “that book” yet? Once upon a time, I would say that writing a book isn’t as easy as watching TV, that getting one published isn’t as easy as getting a paper graded. I would have a string of excuses ready for when they invariably asked me what I was talking about.

I’ve written lots.

I keep getting rejected.

I work at least fifty hours a week.

I have a partner and bills to worry about.

All of which is true, by the way. I’ve written so many short stories and songs and poems and novellas and histories of fictionalised people and places that when combined would easily number in the many hundreds of thousands of words. I’ve submitted scores of stories to scores of magazines and online publications and been rejected by every single one, and the only time I wasn’t turned away was when I published myself on social media to buoy a failed venture into freelance editing. I work fifty hours a week, and I work them in retail, which, from the moment you start clawing at the tendrils of managerial obligation, leaves your mind with nothing but an exhausted husk of a human being for company.

In the end, though, these are just that; a string of excuses. I’ve had opportunities in the past to break the mould. I started my own business. I studied postgraduate creative writing at university. I even took a six-month jaunt from work to produce my sixty-thousand-word “magnum opus”. But I’ve always failed to capitalise. I stagnate when I should be gaining momentum. I fold when I should be raising. In one hand, I hoard the things I write to spare myself the fear of being plagiarised. In the other, I obliterate them to validate my own ineptitude. Expertly, I eliminate any chance of my work meeting a wider audience. I capture it, and I decay. I ensure I remain a hobbyist.

So, to reiterate; I suck at writing. But you know what? I’m not happy unless I’m writing.

You see, my head is full of stories, and I’ll always have to tell them. It’s just something a writer deals with. I can’t stop being a writer, but I need to understand that my dream of being paid to be one will likely never happen. Even if I manage to get a book or two published, the probability that the income they generate will amount to less than a modest quarterly cheque is astoundingly high. It’s pointless to permit heartbreak when the goal was so elusive to begin with, and besides, a bloated cheque isn’t what writing’s about.

Writing’s about sharing a story with people who’ll listen; it’s about gifting others with wisdom or knowledge or perception. Writing isn’t a flawless enterprise of commercial achievement, and it shouldn’t be a cold algorithm composed of market trends and investment cycles. So, forget the excuses, forget the materialism. Writing is my hobby, and here’s where I’ll share my hobby. Maybe one day I’ll realise my dream; maybe one day I’ll be able to live by my words. But, until then, I think I’ll take my avocation and flaunt it on a platform unique to the digital age.

Welcome to my blog.

I hope you enjoy it!