I’ve been doing a lot of writing exercises lately, and the more I do – and the more I try to write on my creative pieces on the side – the more I realize that fiction may not be for me. It’s not that I don’t think I’m “talented” enough to write fiction, and there are certainly stories bouncing around in my head that I would like to tell. But the words flow most clearly when I’m analyzing, or just recording my thoughts on one thing or another. I know memoirs are big right now, but I’m not sure how well “Memoirs of a Twenty-Something Average Dude” would do on the shelves.
It’s why my mind turns frequently toward academia, but the whole system just leaves a bad taste in the back of my mouth. Yes, it would be awesome to be in a university environment again, and be surrounded by people who are dedicated to being huge nerds about things I am also interested in. I don’t know what field I would even look into, though; Literature seems like the obvious choice, but not until Lit departments can mentally shut the doors on dusty old libraries, where people apparently stopped writing sometime in the early twentieth century.
I have found a few programs that also allow for focus on outside materials, like comics or even movies and TV, but they rarely have the prestige of an actual Lit program. Also, after St. John’s and my “Liberal Arts” degree that no one seems to understand in conversation, I am hesitant to spend even more money on a degree that doesn’t necessarily have a field to go with it. Not that Lit is any better; the university system seems dead-set on hiring administrative staff over educators, to the point where all institutions are run like fucking corporations instead of places people learn.
Nerd Rating seemed to offer a good outlet for writing in the style that suits me, but the sheer lack of traffic and readership understandably discourages me. The number of comments on the site by people who aren’t also writers can be counted without even resorting to using toes; Hell, we can’t even get people to comment or share on Facebook. It’s to the point where I know for a fact that some friends hear about something through NR, then go share the damned Bleeding Cool or Kotaku article about it instead of ours.
I didn’t mean for this to turn so bitchy; my original thought was just to talk about how I prefer to write about things, rather than necessarily write things myself. All of this is inherently tied together, though, because I realize that I won’t ever really get to dig into all the books, movies, games, and whatnot out there unless I can land some magical job where I get to talk about those experiences. I realize that having a good job, starting a family, providing for them, and just enjoying the experiences I do have for what they are would be a very good life, and more than what most people could hope for.
I won’t ever really be happy with that, though. Not with my intellect, and my drive to dive into things, and constantly be thinking and growing and sharing. To rein it in a bit, I guess doing these exercises is a step in the right direction, so long as I keep up with them. “I wish someone would recognize my writing talent” sounds a bit flat when I don’t actually have any writing to shore up my claims. Hell, maybe I could get a piece out of this that I could shop around, or submit as a writing sample.
The only other struggle – First World Problems to the max! – that I have is balancing wanting new things with actually getting into the things I already have, while still making sure I’m actually having fun. I have stopped bothering to try and keep track of all the games, movies, and books I have that have never been used, or half-used and then finished; it was starting to wear on my nerves. Still, only a lack of funds keeps me from ordering more and more things from Amazon. I started a new sci-fi book series the other night – Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey – and the blurbs on the back mentioned the other great “space operas” this novel brings to mind. Hello eight new books on my “Sci-Fi Series” Amazon wishlist, which is now at sixty-three items; at the point where my lists are so genre-specific, you can imagine how many there are.
I’ve been doing my best to keep track of everything new I read, play, or watch each year, but what started out as a fun little memento has become something ominous; I feel driven to fill it more and more with each passing year. “I only read how many new books in 2013? Good Lord. And I call myself a scholar.” This creates tension when I put aside one thing to start something new, or want to play or watch something I have already seen. I honestly had to keep from feeling guilty when I watched Star Wars for “May the Fourth be with you,” and it is my favorite movie. I kept thinking about how I could use that two hours for something I didn’t memorize almost two decades ago.
Thankfully, I was able to just watch the movie and enjoy it once it started, but the thought was still there. I can’t tell you how much that part of my brain rebelled while I was reading The Lord of the Rings again this year; “More than 1200 pages worth of reading, and we can’t mark any of it down on the list.” Even worse, I realized that my memories of reading the trilogy from high school were almost nonexistent; how in Valinor did I forget THE LORD OF THE RINGS after barely ten years? I was genuinely bothered by how little I recalled, and it still bothers me if I focus on it too much.
The point I am hopefully working toward is being able to enjoy things, old or new, as they cross my path, or when I decide to seek them out. I shake my head when I think about college and grad school, when I had genuine days off that I spent sleeping until early afternoon, instead of consuming every piece of media possible. That’s a fatalistic approach, living in the past, and so going forward I just have to try harder not to take free time for granted. For instance, there’s new content out for Titanfall today, so we’re going to play tonight; while it’s true I “beat” Titanfall weeks ago, does that really make the time I spend with Erich and Tillman and Beth less worthwhile?
It’s been years since I watched The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – I’ve already seen it, after all – but I really should watch it again if for no other reason to listen to Slartibartfast deliver some of my favorite lines in film history: “I think that the chances of finding out what’s actually going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, ‘Hang the sense of it,’ and keep yourself busy. I’d much rather be happy than right any day.”