A lot of things have been running through my mind recently, and I’ve been having a lot of doubts about who I am, as a writer, human, and reader, in no particular order. It’s all cyclical to me, as I’ll soon explain.
A fair warning before you read this: it might make no sense. I’ve been absorbing a lot of things and maybe haven’t the chance to process them individually very well. I would probably jump back and forth between quotes and thoughts and books, maybe even jump from the perspective of a human, writer, and reader.
The thing that started all of this was Chuck Palahniuk’s essay, ‘You Are Here’, in the collection Stranger Than Fiction. In this essay, Palahniuk describes the almost pitiful event of writers in their mid-50s, clutching their manuscripts, their whole life’s amount, waiting for the seven minutes to pitch their story.
But then sorry, your seven minutes is up.
It’s quite a depressing view of writers and the things we get ourselves into. What’s even more depressing, Palahniuk argues, is the idea that writers rush through life trying to find good material for their next big story. The danger of this, Palahniuk writes, is that writers (or at least, some writers) wouldn’t get to experience something fully, because they’re always on the lookout for a good story – and this perhaps, expedites the falsity of the stories we write, the truth becoming less and less the goal to strive for in exchange for an Hollywood agent to pick up a manuscript.
Palahniuk alone did not jar me into having an existential crisis; he only pushed me into the right direction.
I’ve been thinking a lot about who I am, as a person, and what qualities I value the most and what qualities most define me. So much of my identity consists of what one would assume to be qualities of a writer, hence: writer, human.
I’m almost always an optimist, and one of my main beliefs is that it is possible for two human beings to find genuine connection. I occasionally find this connection in the most random places, and I believe that I’ll get closer and closer to finding that connection more and more often, as I come to terms with both myself and other people around me. This connection is what makes me feel otherwordly, as if I’m inhabiting another’s body.
Which brings me to the next part, reader. I read books to inhabit someone else’s mind, to experience otherworldly beauty in the comfort of my bed under dim lights. I read to find connection.
The saying that life isn’t a story keeps bothering me. It nags me. I know it’s true, and it nags me even more. Life isn’t a story. Life doesn’t have a hero’s journey or narratives or metaphors because it’s all artificial. I read to find beauty and connection, two things that ares saturated with human emotion, two things that are elevated especially when there are metaphors and all kinds of coincidental shit.
Which made me think this depressing thought: If I am a writer/reader who collects stories and moments, do I (as Palahniuk had predicted) live life trying to find these perfect moments (moments worthy of being written down) and romanticize and idealize them into actual moments of connection? And once I’ve found these moments, I go back to reading my books and cycle begins again.
And doesn’t that mean that we are all just distinct particles floating through a big mass of confusion?