He was kind like a mother
He was gentle like a lover
He was charming like another
He was intelligent like her brother
He made love like a sinner
He lived life like a winner
He raced through her mind like she was a dreamer
He was mythical. Like her.
via Daily Prompt: Mythical
When I was growing up, I dreamt of being many things but the one that still sticks to date is wanting to be a writer. You know how some kids think about what kind of pop star or athlete or scientist they’d like to be, well, I wondered what kind of writer I’d be. In the early stages of this fantasy, I wished to be Enid Blyton who wrote Noddy and a few years later I wanted to be Enid Blyton who wrote the Famous Five. This was followed by a brief delusion of wanting to be an Apollo astronaut, which lasted an embarrassingly long time. Then the Harry Potter books came into my life so I obviously wanted to be the next J K Rowling. This fantasy also lasted a very long time. To be honest, it was active until a few years ago when I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire. This was when I realised where the Harry Potter books actually stand in the fantasy genre. No offence, Miss Rowling gave me some of the best years of childhood fantasy but my over-confident young adult ego was grandly mistaken about the entire genre. I don’t blame myself too much though, I didn’t know better back then. Now I read epic fantasy and know why the name is fitting. And no, I don’t want to be the next Robert Jordan (who is featured heavily on this blog recently, if you’ve noticed), I’m not that delusional.
Before I get to the kind of writer I want to be I must mention the Jane Austen phase. It didn’t come about when I first read Pride & Prejudice or Emma even. The inkling to follow in Miss Austen’s footsteps came upon me when I read Persuasion, undoubtedly her most mature work. I was lost not only in the plot, but also in the nuances of her storytelling and her first-class talent of writing complex and complete characters. I wanted to write like her so much that I started writing letters to her. I never posted any of course, I’m not a weirdo, and she’s long dead so there was no where to post them, really. But I did write quite a few of them in, what I thought would’ve been, a style pleasing to her. They all began with “My Dearest Jane”, as though we were sisters separated. I would write to her in a very honest manner about my health (and enquire about hers), my work, about any gentlemen who were courting me, any impropriety I’d experienced and other Austen-ite things. This one-sided correspondence was one of my most memorable attempts at being the type of writer I wanted to become. Once it was clear that I had none of Miss Austen’s eloquence or mastery with prose, I stopped writing to her regularly. Yes, I say “regularly” because I still write to her occasionally. I understood my limitations, I didn’t stop being “a little bit strange”, as I’m referred to by my friends.
So, on to the type of writer I want to become, the answer is the Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling type. I want to make you laugh and think “Oh yeah, I’ve been there”. I want you to feel warm and comforted without weighing too heavily on your intellect. I want you to feel like you’ve understood me a little bit and think that maybe I understand you a little as well. I want to give you a glimpse of what’s in my head. I want to certainly discuss a few serious issues but I don’t want to take you down the deep and dark recesses of my psyche (I’m saving that for a psychiatrist who will need to get his own psychiatrist when he’s done therapising me). I want to be this writer because there is a part of me that believes this might be an achievable goal. This is my “I’m not eating chips for 15 days” rather than my “I give up chocolate for a week” because as we all know, chocolate is basically addictive and it’s not our fault that we want it so much. I’m not saying that I won’t try my “give up chocolate” gig, that will be my attempt at a young adult fantasy series. That’s still very much on the cards. But for now, I will try my hand at Fey and be happy if I end up with something even slightly close to Kaling.
© Eric Dufresne
The latest episode of HBO’s Girls (S03E06) really struck a chord with me. I generally find myself relating to Hannah’s stories but never has one struck so close to home as this time’s. For those who haven’t watched the episode yet, please note that this post contains MAJOR SPOILERS. So, please stop reading now. For those who’ve seen the episode (or don’t care enough), I beg your indulgence for a while. In this episode Hannah gets a job as an advertorial staff writer for GQ magazine. She ends up being surprisingly good at the job and her peers even think she could someday replace their boss. This immediately sets off warning bells in Hannah’s head and she argues that she, unlike the others, is a “real” writer, and is only doing this job as a temporary gig. Her peers knock her off the pedestal she placed herself on, and enlighten her about how they’ve actually been published in better publications than her, took up this job as a temporary gig themselves, and are quite definitely “real” writers. This is when Hannah feels these people have been sidelined from their dreams by the lure of corporate comforts, and agonised over not wanting to end up the same way. She quits but then is convinced into reconsidering by a peer who tells her she can do her personal writing on weekends and at night. The episode ends with her coming home, wanting to write, but being too tired and simply falling asleep.
It’s like they picked up my life and adapted it for this episode. I’m at a job that was supposed to be a “temporary gig”, for almost three years now. I thought I’d write on the side and maintain a blog and figure out what I really want to do, while working 9 to 5. I’ve barely done two of those things and I haven’t even done those regularly. On the show, Hannah is concerned that the money and the corporate perks will hold her back from quitting at a later point. I feared this as well. However, that’s not what will hold Hannah back later. I know this now because it struck me after watching that episode. It’s not the money that’s keeping me from pursuing my dreams and it’s not the perks. It’s the fear of not being good enough, or rather, capable enough to successfully follow my dreams.
I haven’t quit my job yet because I like the money or anything. I haven’t pursued my dreams because I’m afraid of failing at them. At this point, I don’t need anyone to tell me I’ll succeed, or give me an inspirational speech. What I need, and Hannah will as well, is a push. I need someone or something to come along and shove me over the deep end or else I’ll just be stuck here admiring the view off the edge. Scratch that. What I really need to do is make the jump myself.