When I was a little kid of nine, armed with hand-me-down notebooks and sparkly pens, I told my mother that I wanted to be an author. I wrote crap, basically, stories influenced by whatever I had watched on tv and read in books, a sort of mashed up plagiarism, since I liked Chinese period dramas with all the old school martial arts (with all the fanciful attack names) and Western medieval fantasy books. I illustrated them as well, with really bad renderings of girls with lame flowing hair and really strange looking hands and feet. Even to this day, I can’t draw hands, especially fingers, and drawing realistic feet are still out of my capabilities as well. I usually just tell people, especially my piano kids, that I will only draw stick men. And crappy stick men, at best.
But even as I got older, the days turning hotter, and hotter (never colder because what seasons do we have here, amirite?), I told people that I wanted to write for a living. My mother was still supportive of my choice in career, albeit very doubtful of my ability to actually get there (which she was right to do so, because I’m a twentysomething person who is still a sad sad office monkey with extremely dusty dreams of being a writer).
I sat at the cool kids’ table in primary school, with my no-longer-hand-me-down notebooks, not bullied for being an unapologetic nerd, because I was basically declaring that I liked doing composition homework for fun when I said I was writing stories. The same went for my secondary school days, where friends told me that they wanted to read my published works. By then I had amassed quite a lot of notebooks, with half drawn out plotlines and half developed characters.
It feels like I’m doomed to constantly start and restart everything sporadically, and the cycle continues ad nauseam.
To be honest, I know what was the main problem behind everything. Sure, procrastination was a demon, my lack of urgency was another. But the main thing that probably bogged me down was the fact that I didn’t really have a story to tell. There was nothing that I wanted to really write about, or at least there was no genuine story bursting out of my soul, and I had no real passion that needed to be told to the larger world. I had ideas, sure, cobbled from here and there, like how I was influenced by whatever I had watched or read when I was a child. Even now, I am that child still. The lack of actual story held me back, it didn’t really matter if I had the writing chops or if I wrote like a drunken otter. It didn’t matter because there was nothing to write about. Perhaps I am a hollow person, despite all attempts to seem otherwise.
Another issue was that I found myself drawn into the small gritty details of research. Every time I wanted to write something, I ended up with yet another thing to research about, and while I procrastinate on researching on whatever topic I needed in order to write, the actual process of writing fell even further on the backburner. And once more, I sacrifice another notebook to the futility of achieving a far away goal.
These days, I scarcely dare to dream of writing. Nah, I’m too tired to write, I tell myself, grim-eyed, as though I faced a thousand battles and came through scarred and rugged, when my fingers are hardly callused from typing, when all I have typed are emails to various agencies chasing them for one item or another, or crafting unentertaining tweets to amuse my friends. I end up distracting myself with video games and sitcoms because what else is there in my life currently?
These days, I dream more of getting a less crappy job, something that would put more money in the bank, something that would challenge me more in terms of my intelligence.
And maybe, if I were to describe the job I would want, I would prefer to be an assistant to an actual writer. I want to be the researcher for the writer, to help them find the materials they need to write whatever stories dwelling inside them, to read and find out things about the 15th century vases or learning about amputation techniques in the olden days or the characteristics of blackholes. I like that aspect – learning about all the various different things for the sake of learning about them. There might be no real world applications for some information, but still, they are fascinating to read about. I might not be creative enough to spin my own yarns, but perhaps I can be useful enough to someone else who has the talent and patience to do so.
I don’t know, that’s how I feel as a tired (and isn’t ‘tired’ such a cop-out word?) twentysomething, which is different from when I was an idealistic nine year old, or even a hopeful teen. Maybe I’ll feel something else when I’m in my thirties, or even later.