Archive for March, 2009

The Fire

I feel it coming back.

The fire.

That little bit of inspiration that I need to be able to write. It went out after my Cuba trip, but I’m starting to feel it again. Tiny fickers at this point… but they’re there, and that’s what counts.

There are three factors which I believe have contributed to the reignition of the fire.

1. Peter Pan

I admit to being a fake. I claimed that Peter Pan was my favourite character of all time, when really I had only ever watched the Disney version. But, thanks to a friend of mine, I am now in possession of J.M. Barrie’s original version. It’s different from the Disney version, but not much. The book is more violent, to be sure, and Peter comes off as a bit more fanatical in it, but most of the basic plot elements remain similar between the two versions.

One thing that is present within the book is completely missing from the Disney version, however, and that is Barrie’s narration.

By God, it’s brilliant.

Most third person narrators seem unattached to the plot, and simply show and tell the reader what happened to the main characters.

Barrie’s narration makes it feel like you’re in the room with Barrie as he’s writing. He involves himself in the plot. It’s fresh, it’s exciting, it’s the best third person narration I’ve ever read. I didn’t think it was possible for a third person narrative to be that good.

And it’s make me think "I really want to be able to write like that."

I have a hell of a way to go. My third-person narrative skills suck, frankly. But in order to improve, I need to write.

2. Everyone

I don’t like disappointing people. And there are people out there who want me to write. There are people out there who have faith in me.

Recently, I was cruising the hallways of my school when I saw Scott, a boy my age, chatting with Marco, a grade eight student.

Now, Scott is the resident genius of the school. In terms of his marks, he blows everyone else clean out of the water. Everyone knows this.

Marco was being tutored in Math by Scott, and Scott was probably doing a bang-up job.

And then Marco saw me, and asked me for help with his writing. He had the genius of the school right beside him, a guy whose English mark is a full 13% higher than mine… and Marco asked me for help. It was like Scott didn’t even exist. He walked away after a few minutes of being completely uninvolved in our conversation.

It turns out that Marco has decided to write a short story. He’s aiming for 10,000-20,000 words. A lofty goal, to be sure, but an attainable one, if he works at it.

Maybe I’m being vain here, but I can’t help but wonder if I might be part of the inspiration behind Marco’s sudden decision to take up writing. He knew about my novel, after all. Is it possible that he wanted to take after me? Is it possible that I inspired someone?

I don’t know for sure, but if so, wow. And the thought that I might have inspired someone inspires me even more.

It’s not just Marco. There are other people of all ages who tell me that they’ll read my novel when I get it published.

When I get it published, they say. Not "if". When.

They haven’t read it, but they have faith in me. And I don’t want to let them down.

3. Dan

It makes sense that Dan would be at the centre of my newfound motivation, since he was the person who killed it in the first place.

I’ve been struggling to find inspiration for a while now, but for some reason I never thought to ask myself what Dan would say in this situation.

Once I pondered that question, the answer came to me pretty quickly.

Dan would not give a long winded speech on the joys of writing.
Dan would not wax philosophical about short term pain for long term gain.
Dan would not list great authors who rose from out of nowhere to become well-renowned in order to inspire me.
Dan would not even advise me to do whatever makes me happy.

Dan wouldn’t need a lot of words to respond to my current situation. In fact, he would only need one.


My situation would confuse him:

I want to write.
Most other people want me to write.
Writing is a good thing.

It seems ridiculous now that I’m not writing. Why am I not doing something which is good for me, which also brings joy to me and to others?

It’s true; no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be Dan. But I can be Mike. And that will have to do.

Dan could say it all with one word.

"Write," he would command me.

And so I shall.


There will always be someone out there to destroy your beliefs.

It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what you believe. You could be Mother Teresa, saving the poor of Calcutta, and there will still be that person lying in the weeds to cut you up.

You might not get yourself shot or stabbed, but you’ll get yourself jeered and spit at. The only way to save yourself from this is to be a stone, and have no beliefs. But that’s impossible.

I guess this sort of thing is to be expected. We’re almost up to seven billion people on the planet now. Someone is going to disagree with you. Someone is going to hate what you’re doing. It’s unavoidable, right?

But that doesn’t make it okay.

There are some people out there that you expect to criticize you. If you’ve happened to make any enemies in life, you can expect that they’ll mock you even if your beliefs mesh perfectly with theirs. If you’re a homosexual, you can expect that a homophobe will do anything and everything to make you feel like shit. If you’re a liberal, you can expect that a conservative is going to take everything you say, twist it up, and turn it against you.

And when you’re expecting criticism, it’s pretty easy to respond to it. You’ve got a preset phrase in your head, ready to be unleashed the second that person opens their mouth. At the very least, it’s easy to just say "Fuck you," and be on your way.

But when someone comes from out of nowhere and tears you to ribbons, it hurts a hell of a lot more. And you never know how to respond to it. Never.

I mean, what are you supposed to say to that nice old Italian lady who smiles to your face but secretly despises you because she thinks that you’re going to molest her grandson? You see, you made the awful mistake of taking the subway with him once because he was afraid of taking it alone. How do you talk to such a lady?

Or what about that thirteen year old kid who comes right up to you and says "So, why are you obsessed with Alex? That’s kind of creepy."? How do you go about telling him that buying a kid who has few friends a muffin and becoming their friend isn’t a criminal offence?

You try not to let it bug you, but it isn’t easy. That old lady was so friendly, after all. It wasn’t until the next day that her grandson informed you that the second you were out of earshot she unleashed all form of insult upon your character. You can’t very well just tell her to go fuck herself.

And that thirteen year old? You’ve never even spoken to him before. And he cuts you up. You could kick the shit out of him with one hand tied behind your back, but that would send the wrong sort of message, and besides, he’s knocked you off your horse.

You want to yell at these people and tell them that they have you pegged entirely wrong, but you can’t, because your confidence is ringing up a zero.

I believe that helping people who need help is a good thing. Am I mistaken? I don’t think that I am.

But some people really seem to want me to stop. And for the first time, I’m scared that I’ve been wrong all along.

Some Things Never Change

Today I was in the Dean’s office on film club business, and I happened to see an old black and white photo on his desk. It was a picture of a classroom, with a class in progress. I inquired about it.

The photo was taken around the turn of the 20th century. Let’s say 1909, exactly a century ago. What struck me about the photo was how normal it looked.

Here was a class full twelve year old kids. Sure, they had inkwells instead of pen and paper, and did their arithmetic on those small chalkboards, but aside from those small details, this could have been a class from 2009, and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. One kid is looking up with a furrowed brow, as if the answer is up in the sky somewhere. Another is subtly glancing to his left, trying to copy answers off of another student without being noticed. In the background, some students are paying close attention, others are diligently taking notes, and still others are staring out into the abyss.

Go into any seventh grade classroom today, and unless you’re in a fascist military school, you’ll find the exact same thing happening. One hundred years later.

Now go into a factory today, and compare it with a factory one hundred years ago, and you’ll find it radically different.

There’s this whole panic about the widening generation gap, and yet children have been almost entirely immune to it.

The adults of the ’80s are far different from the adults of today. And yet the children of today are very similar to the children of 1909.

It’s interesting, no?

Wow, I’m eighteen now. I never imagined myself in this state. I sort of figured I’d be dead by now.
Eighteen brings with it very few advantages. I can now vote, and I can now go to jail. That’s about it.
Every year I hate my birthday more and more. This year, I think that my birthday has officially sunk below Halloween to become my least favourite day of the year. Birthdays for me have become a day where everyone else celebrates the fact that I’m moving farther and farther away from what I want. It’s depressing. I can’t stand it.
I can only imagine how depressed I’ll be next year, when I hit legal drinking age. Or worse, two years from now, when I leave the teenage years behind entirely. Ugh. I don’t even want to think about it.
The big thing is that I am now legally an adult.
Yesterday I was a child under the law. Today I’m an adult. Who the hell made that rule up? Surely the Conservatives. It’s always the Conservatives.
Well, fuck the law.
The way I see it, today is just the fifth anniversary of my thirteenth birthday. That was a good year.
I’m still a kid. Nothing has changed. Nothing will change.