Currently, I am working on a novella. The subject is difficult to explain but, essentially, it is a reaction to the advice I received from my Creative Writing Final Portfolio Workshop last semester, in which I have blatantly done the opposite of what I was told to do.
This is the introduction to the text, as it currently stands. I have yet to finish the entire piece, although I believe that, to achieve the effect I would desire, it might have to be spread into two Novellas, rather than a standalone text. As always, any feedback, or suggestions you might have will be greatly appreciated! Even if the advice is ‘burn it all and start again’.
Firstly, before what little impact the following text, this randomly extracted, honest account of self-abasement and composed, for the most part, of the theft of words penned by better personifications than I, can be allowed to launch its attack on those few senses of yours that you actually care to spare for it, as though it were a pauper slouching in the shadow of a doorway, I would pose to you a series of questions. I know you didn’t come to me, if you actually believe that is what you are doing, to be judged, and in a wholly physical reality I would have no right to do so.
But in this world, I am the author. You are a visitor into this, the subconscious of a man I have locked away, chained to a prose absent of narrative, in a maelstrom of deceit, alcohol, music and the cages of those humanitarian deities I have worshipped since I hid my refusal to utter the words of a Lord’s Prayer behind the laughter of my peers, in the pressure of an overly-bright chapel adorned with the marks of a religion older than itself.
Am I really the voice of the author, or the character dreaming of a man he could be, or some omnipotent narrator, with a voyeur’s perversion taken to the very limit of its ability? To the logical conclusion of an obsessive society? By what mythical authority do I, a man of such complex simplicity and simplified complexity that I don’t even understand myself, possess the right to tell you a narrative, whether it is my own or not? Why would you let someone with just such a sickness of the mind as mine into your own consciousness, if only for these next few pages, tortured beyond all recognition?
Why are you reading this, this non-sensical series of queries, when you could be doing so much more? You could easily write as simplistically as I do, at the pace of a spavined snail and understandable even by the child. You could write a narrative with meaning, with purpose, something to set the world alight, or to quench the collective thirst of a generation a hundred years hence. You could sit by the roadside, your head against some crumbling brick wall, and learn more of the world than I can offer you, even if I had the talent of Joyce, the longevity of Methuselah himself.
Do you trust me? Why should you, you don’t know me, and yet you would let me into your carefully constructed world. You would allow me to have an impact, no matter how slight, on the life you live. A life immeasurably separate to my own, separated by the depth of a shadow, and connected through words that you will forget as soon as your idly spinning, temporarily fixated eyes seek something with a more satisfying air, something that will offer you resolution. If we had not met like this, as I speak down to you from a position of assumed authority, in a uniform stolen from history, of course you would not.
But there is an inherent code of conduct within this relationship of ours, that I will take you on a journey so fantastical that you know it could not possibly be true, however much you would wish it so, or it would carry such an air of depressing realism that any room for doubt at the truth in my words would, instead, be filled with rotten streets, desperate buildings and a stale sense of outrage, a lone voice crying out ‘We’re not dead yet!’, or something equally as pointless, equally as untrue.
In a similar way, I could ask the same of myself. And, to be honest, I do not know what answer I would possibly give you. How can I trust you, perhaps a question even more difficult than that to which I would demand a response of you. You, with such maturity, with such common sense, could take my words and wring them by the neck, warp them into a meaning I have never intended, a message so far from these empty words which rattle like change in that beggar’s rusting can. Weddings and wars, revolutions and persecutions have started over much less than the ramblings of a drunk, self-inflicting a weariness which is normally earned after years of grey existence.
And then, I must ask the question to which I know the answer, but I have no desire to share. Do I trust myself? Do I believe this following narrative is the truth, as best as I can recall it, through the haze of self-abasement and the arrogance hidden behind that thick smog? But then, does a sense of self-awareness, one which I am confident that I possess, (or possess the mental faculties to falsify the possession thereof), make that arrogance seem less pronounced? Does it push it deeper in to the mist, like the Ripper fleeing into the close of the evening?
Are my half-formed politics, the combination of my disgust and love for this society in which we live, the driving forces behind this rambled nonsense? Or is this a plea for consolation, for acceptance, for someone to see through these overly-embittered eyes of mine, to assuage my loneliness? Is this art, or refuse, or a madman’s scribbling, no doubt to be found lying on the floor of some ancient asylum in years hence, and to have too much read into it, by the shadows of scholarly children yet unborn?
That will do. For now, at least until this message, conjured by some arrogant narcissist whom places himself so far above you all, has taken root inside my own soil and I can nurture it into some grand literary theory or eternal piece of prose, one to match the wits of Orwell and Huxley, of Lovecraft and Shakespeare and all those other shades I feel in the encompassing solitude.
Who are you to ask me for anything more?
I know who you are, even if you do not. Because, in this idle vision, you are what I have decided you are, as I wish I had the authority to elect my own role within this modern-day horror, this narrative lacking in phantasm and, instead, offering a stranger’s mentality.
You are the critic, and I am the drunk.