Evergreen

“If in my youth I had realized that the sustaining splendour of beauty of with which I was in love would one day flood back into my heart, there to ignite a flame that would torture me without end, how gladly would I have put out the light in my eyes.”  ~Michelangelo

I hear, from time to time, other authors speak of their old work in hushed tones, often in embarrassment or disdain or both. I’ve grown considerably since I first began to try my hand at this particular art of storytelling, but I realized something tonight that I’d known, yet forgotten all the same; youth is exempt from the fear of mortality and therefore has no concept of future misgivings. For most children there is always the promise of tomorrow and with it, the possibility of everything they long for. The fear of failure, when it comes to their dreams, is as foreign as the reality of income tax and termites.

After sending out a submission and getting unrealistically (and unnecessarily) wrapped up in all the ‘grown-up’ stuff we authors have to deal with, I sat down in my oversized chair and randomly went through a few old files—stuff I hadn’t so much as glanced at in a decade. I flipped absentmindedly through the papers and before long, I found myself stunned by my own past, in awe of a love affair with worlds I’d long since forgotten. I knew I’d written five ‘books’ when I was fourteen or so, in collaboration with my best friend at the time. I’ve read over them now and again for old times’ sake, but what I’d apparently put out of mind was a staggering amount of work—prologues, story sketches, scenes, character and plot maps; pages upon pages of what probably amounts to over 500,000 words or so. This is just prose, not journal entries (which exceed that number by far).

You’re probably asking yourself why you’re still reading this post by now, but give me a second here. My point in bringing this up, is that I want to remind you what it meant to write with such abandon. I clearly, clearly couldn’t have cared less if those words ever saw daylight, let alone publication. As adults, we still write with ourselves in mind (mostly—then editors, our readers, etc), but there is such a tremendous difference. It isn’t merely the lack of experience or lack of quality that would accompany any childhood ramblings that makes these penned worlds what they are. There is something else, something evergreen that literally jumps off of the pages. This girl, who worked free of boundaries, is why I started writing again three years ago. I didn’t merely love to write: I wrote with no concept of what it meant to be an author. I walked through the divide between what is, and what can never be, with no consideration of how it affected me personally.

What I’m saying, is that I didn’t care about voice, or style, or genre; I didn’t have any notion of royalties or advances or contracts. I didn’t fear rejections because frankly, even had I known what they were, I still wouldn’t have given a damn. Put simply, the story was all that mattered. We say this all the time as adults, but do we mean it utterly?

And really, when the day ends, what differentiates good prose from great? What distinguishes one work and discards another? That single quality, that crucial element that will, without fail, lend validity to your work is its ability to be evergreen. The irony of it, is that it isn’t something that can be forced. It either is, or is not. The choice is up to you and how willing you are to let go of your boundaries. As youth, we gather our materials and ready ourselves to construct mythical kingdoms, great and lofty palaces. Yet somewhere along the way our adulthood steals our confidence, tells us that all we have collected is of no consequence, convinces us that degrees and titles and awards are the only things that will build a future.

To hell with adulthood.

It’s in my blood. Perhaps I am romanticizing this time, but you didn’t spend the last three hours reading what I read. I’m ashamed of how much fear I’ve let slip in over the last year or so. But, the good thing about writing youthfully; there is always tomorrow. And tomorrow, I start fresh…no more fear or doubt (or Dragons if you’ve been reading this blog), only evergreen.

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Down the Rabbit Hole

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

I can’t tell you the last time I was actually depressed. Its been awhile for sure. While I was  cleaning the house today, I finally realized why I’ve been so sluggish lately. I have been a little under the weather since I left work. But, there is a difference between the blah feelings of fighting off a cold and the tell tale signs of, my good old friend, depression. So, as much as I hate to admit it–I need to.

Depression affects everything. My writing, my social life and most certainly my ability to function on a professional level–not that my writing career is really soaring or anything. Still, getting up and out of bed has a pretty high correlation to productivity. It’s likely the reason I haven’t been sleeping too well lately (though last night wasn’t too bad–which, come to think of it, could have been the cough syrup–Codeine’s good stuff.

I’ve lost weight–not a ton, but enough. My appetite sucks. I look awful; pale, lackluster complexion and dark circles under my eyes. What’s worse, is that I am already on an antidepressant, though it isn’t for depression. It’s for Trigeminal Neuralgia (long story). I think part of it, is that I didn’t see myself here at 28. I thought things would be different by now. I’m not normally this translucent or vulnerable in blog posts, but everyone’s got to confess sometime, right? I suppose this is mine. My heart is broken. And its broken deeper than I thought. I haven’t really written much more than a few paragraphs or a few drafted ideas in nearly two months. I know that my sadness has to do with my lack of really spending time with my passion (articles don’t count for me as writing), but its a vicious cycle. You would think it would be easy enough to sink into another world when I have so staggeringly little interest in this one, but it’s not that simple. When I was in Jr. High, it was…but not now. And there isn’t enough codeine in the world to make that pain go away. There isn’t enough alcohol or Saturday morning cartoons, or pictures of better days or songs on the radio.

I’m not usually a fan of weepy, emotional writing. I grew out of that when I left freshman year in college. But, my guts feel like they’ve been ripped out. And there is just this big hollow place left. I don’t want to hear about God, or how much Jesus loves me. I know all of that. I’m tired of cliche answers. There simply isn’t anything to say. Sometimes life hurts. Period. This is one of those times. Even Christ allowed people to suffer–wasn’t Peter stoned and crucified upside down? Just in case anyone was contemplating telling me how God doesn’t want me to feel this way. I think he’s got  bigger things to deal with than my petty issues. I don’t need to pray for God’s wisdom on what eye shadow I need to wear tomorrow–I’m not one of those people. I was long, long ago. But after getting burnt enough, you realize that religion and holiness have nearly nothing to do with each other.

Is it really darkest before the dawn? I heard that somewhere. I feel a little like Alice, and I keep waiting for a rabbit to follow–for something to change, but it never really will, will it? Childhood is over. My friend and I often lament how things have so changed since we were younger. How did we become so bitter?

Caterpillar: Who are YOU?
Alice: This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.

The Duchess:
I quite agree with you. And the moral of that is: Be what you would seem to be, or if you’d like it put more simply: Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.

Alice: But I don’t want to go among mad people.
The Cat: Oh, you can’t help that. We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.
Alice: How do you know I’m mad?
The Cat: You must be. Or you wouldn’t have come here.
Alice: And how do you know that you’re mad?
The Cat: To begin with, a dog’s not mad. You grant that?
Alice: I suppose so,
The Cat: Well, then, you see, a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags its tail when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad.

Alice: I’ve had nothing yet, so I can’t take more.
The Hatter: You mean you can’t take less; it’s very easy to take more than nothing.

The White Queen: Can you do addition? What’s one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one?
Alice: I don’t know. I lost count.

Alice: And how many hours a day did you do lessons?
The Mock Turtle: Ten hours the first day, nine the next, and so on.
Alice: What a curious plan!
The Gryphon: That’s the reason they’re called lessons, because they lessen from day to day.

So, there it is…my thoughts for the day. If you are here from facebook and feel generous enough to comment, please, please do so at the blog itself. http://www.jschancellor.wordpress.com  (besides, the blog looks cooler)

quotes taken from about.com