In my boredom at work today, I picked up Chuck Klosterman's book, Killing Yourself to Live. It's a decent book, although he is about as whiny as you'd expect a rock critic to be...he's kind of like Dave Eggers if he was a fifteen year old in a freshman seminar on creative writing.
There was a section in the book that struck me as, "Worth the Read", though. On pages 117 through 121, he is having an imaginary conversation with the four women he's been in love with during his life, and they're all in a car. Most of the time they're bitching at him for the way he deals with women, how insecure he is, and other assorted things...but one thing stood out to me. At one point, one of them says to him that it's hard for her not to feel like a character where he inserts different women and he is still the star. Eggers mentioned something similar to this in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, about someone getting angry at him for treating them like a character and trying to make them fill a spot in his life.
As a writer, you get caught in the strangest situation possibly in all of humanity. And I don't really mean a blogger, because most folks who have these things can't write worth a shit anyway, and either way it's hard to fuck a story about your kid puking on the carpet and how cute it was. No, I mean serious writers, people who write because they can't sleep if they don't and have metaphors and images exploding around their heads all the time like helium balloons held over a candle... those people.
Why, you ask? Well, for the same reason that Klosterman and Eggers say: everyone becomes a character. Writing this blog started out as a way for me to put together essays about humanity, politics, or other things I thought inspired. What it has turned into over the last few months is a chronicle of my life, which has become more intense than I thought it would (for the two or three of you that I don't know that read this fucking thing, I'm even leaving out huge chunks of my life that I can't exactly talk about at the present time.) Everyone I know has become a character for this endeavor, which may never go anywhere past a couple of computer screens in faraway states. However, if it does, or if I used this as a basis for something else, then things explode.
Everything that I remember happening has two or three different versions depending on who was there and how drunk I was. Someone recently told me that it seemed like I lived in a cartoon or a movie, because "shit like this doesn't happen to normal people."
I guess it is a little ridiculous, and more than a little cliched. A father figure dying at a young age, the resulting pyshological tailspin that resulted from it, the best friend dying just as I was coming out of the ten year semi-depression, the breakup with the long-term girlfriend, the fights, the arrests, the strippers, the whores, the drunken rage and anger and hatred and fear. A girl who I can't stand told me the other day, "You know, you're good when you're drinking for the first two hours. I mean, you're funny and everything, and it's fine. And then you get pissy, and then by the end of the night you're very... depressed." It is kind of like a movie in a way, a fucked up movie that I don't know the ending of. It is self perpetuating, I guess- I'm fucked up because of the things that have happened in the past, and I do fucked up things because of them that only end up fucking me up more. Even Ryer's (ex)girlfriend told me that I have to start letting go. Letting go of what? Of him? Memories are memories, they ain't going anywhere. Letting go of the anger? Well, that's not just Ryer, although he has played a big part in it- it's watching your family members die, watching their caskets get lowered, and then watching the repercussions of this, which, in my family, means more self-destructiveness then you could imagine, with painkillers and drinking and cocaine and addiction. Let go? How? It's still going on... like Faulkner said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
Everyone is the star of their own life, we all know that. Most people don't write volumes about it though, volumes that could potentially harm the very friends that they're writing about, the girls that they love, or the people they work with. The pen is not only stronger than the sword, it's more painful to deal with because flesh wounds heal, but like Chaucer, I am laying everyone out naked for eternity (or at least until some hacker comes around and fucks my page up.) It's a strange kind of power to have.
Honestly, I am surprised that people like Egger or Klosterman are willing to lay all this out when they themselves are so young. I used to think that people wrote memoirs late in life because until then, they didn't have enough to talk about to fill a book... Now, I think it's because they know most of the people they're writing about are dead, and they won't have to deal with the repercussions.
I saw a question on a dumb Myspace survey that asked, "Are you more in the past, the future, or the present?" The most common answer among the Myspace crowd is, "pREseNt!! LOLZZZ", but then they're fucking retards so I'm not surprised (and if you're one of the broads that writes like that, can you please post a shirtless pic so your page is worth looking at?)
For me, it's undoutedly the past. I'm too busy thinking about what's happened before to worry about what's happening now, and I'm so fearful of the future that I can't even comprehend the fact that I may be alive next week and yet my life will be different. All I can write about is the past, and what I write may make people feel like I'm using them for my own purposes.
Furthermore, where is the line drawn between writing and character? I create a character here on this page even though I don't mean to, and everything I write here is the honest truth (aside from the couple short stories that I wrote a couple months ago). Yet, there are things that I leave out, things I stress more, lines that I change around, incidents that I blend together simply because my memory sucks to begin with and I drink a lot on top of that. There are things in here that I couldn't say in real life, and there are things I say in real life that I would never put in writing no matter how big the contract. It's like being scizophrenic in a way, and trying to figure out where I stop and my writing begins. Sometimes they blend together, and sometimes they are completely seperate...
It's funny because Klosterman says at one point, "Artists who believe they have any control over the interpretation of their work are completely fooling themselves."