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Riley
09-08-2008, 07:53 AM
I feel ridiculous for writing such a letter, but when things are to be written, they are written, whether their recipient acknowledges the words or not. Iíll keep this short as I can.

Itís just. . . Gods, itís over. This is an epilogue.

#

A little about myself. Though I am only eighteen, Iíve been writing for twelve to fourteen years. My first ďstoryĒ was actually a play written on giant drawing paper. My second ďstoryĒ was a nine-page novel about sea serpents that I was completely sure would win a Pulitzer Prize. I loved the story for the story. I wanted to be a great writer and so, for twelve to fourteen long, lonely years, I embarked on a quest to be good as possible. I was the author of spaceships manned by dragon-men, of starpeople singing brightly around the cosmic pool

Things change, and they change badly, but throughout the years it was so slow, so imperceptible to me, that I only first noted it when my fervent interest in dragons waned. That should have been my first warning, when I stepped into my room one day and realized I hadnít written a story about dragons in years. Dragons were and are the very source of inspiration. All great artists have drawn from the primordial energy that is the great serpent.

Then, year by year, worlds Iíd created and characters Iíd come to know faded from view. Planets crumbled. Magical beasts fled for more verdant pastures. The pool where the starpeople once sat was now algae-scudded, profoundly ruined.

That was, perhaps, a year and a half ago. The rest of me has broken now. I can blame it on a part-time job at a fast food joint and adult life, but I need to be honest with myself about these mechanisms that have conspired to ruin the only part of my identity Iíve been able to hold for all these years: my identity as a writer.

Now the writer writes, and the reader reads, and I donít deny that I am both of them. But thereís a difference between a Writer and a Reader and a writer and a reader. Coherent or not, I have become resigned. Dreams are beautiful things to reach for; without them, the human race would not have progressed nearly as far as it has. Yet a dream is a ship, always with a few passengers who miss the departure time. I stand here on the dock, the last of my dignity feathering to dust.

I have accepted the fact that I am a fake. That I am an amateur. That I am a hack with no unique ideas, energy, determination, or skill. I accept the pillar of my identity has been based on colossal ignorance, which in turn has led to equally colossal loneliness so that I take pills to stem the neurotic behavior Iíve developed from it.

I believed I had an exceptional gift: a natural ability at writing. How can I believe I have any talent when people write for five years, only to perform spectacularly, and I write for near fourteen, and receive nothing but blood in the palm from neglected roses? I was able to delude myself for a long time, until school, work, and adult engagements made me realize only special people get honors, make the performance. I am not special. So very few of us are.

Iíve spent nearly my entire life alone. Days my peers gathered I squirreled myself away in my room. Became a recluse. I studied humanity from the outside. Bit by bit, I gained the ability to portray the world through words, while my ability to communicate with it myself atrophied. How many nights I curled alone in bed, thinking about my stepfatherís gun! How many times did I stutter awkwardly at a request for my name? And how many times did I hide whenever someone new came into the territory I had so poorly marked for myself!

Since Iíve realized the error of my ways, Iíve been able to communicate better with my fellows. The communication is hollow. Look at these peopleóthey donít have the magic, the feeling, the resonance I used to find in the characters I created for myself. These people donít know my heart and donít care about the dreams that used to be. To find the intelligent is to find the snob, or overachiever. To find the humble is to find the dull or the recluse reclusive as me.

Yes, I am humbled. I am the dimwit sidekick on the Saturday morning cartoons.

Itís my time. I have nothing to look forward to except a dreary life of school, work, and maybe TV. I donít know if I can get into TV. Frankly, I donít see the point in it when I have books.

Books. Yes. The final sanctuary for this hack. Only, these days I want to read the old books. I want to read Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Bhagavad-Gita. I want to immerse myself in Ray Bradbury, Henry Kuttner, Isaac Asimov, and Phillip K. Dick. They are everything I want to be yet canít. Especially Bradbury. Nights, I read one of his books until I fall asleep over it. Iíve ruined at least three Fahrenheit 451s that way, drooling on them, I mean. It doesnít matter; I buy a new one. I buy and buy again the faded memories. No, I donít mind sleeping on my books.

Because when I sleep, I dream again.




I think I'll go away for a long time, drop things I was doing, give up on enterprises I've already begun, no matter where I am on them. I think I'll try, for once, to let my grades slip, to waste countless hours in front of a TV screen. If that doesn't work, I don't know what I'll do. Maybe I'll run away somewhere. Even if there's no such thing as "running away".

See you guys on either end of the proverbial bridge. I have faith in you. Keep it up.

Fenika
09-08-2008, 08:00 AM
Riley, I only read part of your post, but there is a whole world to explore out there. I know it's rough, and I know things can get dark. If writing is rough, find another challenge. If social situations are difficult, see if you can find some that agree with you (karate lessons for example.)

And while you can let projects slide (but please pick up others), do not do not do not let your grades slip (unless you are a straight A student and are allowing some Bs). Good grades open doors. You don't want to give up that fight just yet. Talk to your school councilor. If you don't like him/her, talk to another. One challenge at a time.

Topaz044
09-08-2008, 08:32 AM
Riley,

I've read your whole letter, and oddly enough you and I have a lot in common. I spent at least fourteen years of my life writing and not being accepted (but to be honest, my first story ever was crap). I was also the outcast, the one who stuttered, the one who spent most of her life in a dark room picturing other worlds. And yes, at one point in my life, like you, I quit writing for a while because my muse left me.

The world of writing is tough, and if it's not for you, find something else you want to do instead. But I would suggest thinking about writing stories just for the fun of it. Don't do it for fame, or for getting it accepted, do it because you want to. Because that's what writing should be about. It's not supposed to control your life. It's supposed to be a fun part of your life, if you want it to.

Best of luck :)

Topaz044

Bartholomew
09-08-2008, 08:44 AM
Being a teenager sucks. This is the worst part of your life. It only gets better--if you let it. I promise.

Woodsie
09-08-2008, 08:47 AM
Riley,

Your epilogue is beautifully written. Only a Writer could have written it.

Endurance is inspiring. Quitting is natural.

Sincerely,

Someone who is cheering for you.

JeanneTGC
09-08-2008, 09:18 AM
At 18, the only thing you wouldn't be an amateur at would be being a teenager. Give yourself the time to grow up into a young adult, then a little less young adult, and so on.

Writing, just like life, is a journey, not a destination. You're really only at the start of it, even if it seems like you've been on the road a long time. There's a lot more, around the bend that you can't see, and won't see, if you don't keep moving forward.

JoNightshade
09-08-2008, 09:47 AM
Riley -

Let me be the first to say this: 5 or 10 years from now, you're going to look back on what you just wrote and laugh. Oh, and your face is going to be bright red because you'll be so embarrassed you ever indulged in such immature melodrama.

I say this because there are boxes of journals filled with this exact material sitting in the attic at my parents' house and I hope to god I never have to look at them again. I literally could have written this letter myself 8 years ago (I'm 26). I probably wrote something really, really similar. I even idolized the same authors you did - I was a Bradbury fanatic and yes, I read all the classics.

Good news: From my oh-so-exalted perspective now, I look back and realize what I was shedding back then was the vestiges of my childhood. I was struggling to cling to those last handfuls of make-believe, the magical Neverland that "special" people like us grow up in (wild guess - your personality type is INFP). I remember very clearly the last time I read Something Wicked This Way Comes. I got to the end and I cried - because the magic was GONE.

Some very few people, like Bradbury, are forever-children. They live in that twilight haze. The rest of us, sadly, have to grow up. But in time, you'll realize that doesn't mean the end of creativity. It's a different KIND of creativity all together. It's not bad or uninspired. It does involve a heck of a lot of hard work. But it's infinitely rewarding. There IS magic in the real world. You've just got to learn to see it.

Oh, and as for your social issues... guess what, you'll probably always be an introvert. But it's not the end of the world. Trust me on that. ;)

NicoleMD
09-08-2008, 10:02 AM
No one promised the transition into adulthood would be easy. But it's time to shed your metaphoric scales and see what you're made of underneath. You'll find many things, but I'm willing to bet, one of them will be a Writer.

You write good stuff. I know because I've read it. Keep it up.

Nicole

mlhernandez
09-08-2008, 12:11 PM
Riley, that letter would be one kickass opening to a novel of self-discovery, of a protagonist, a novelist, searching for a new dream realm to replace the one he's lost.

As for running away, well, why not? I have a friend, a painter, who recently went through a similar situation. She lost her creative spark and was miserable, desolate, for months. Without her art, she was nothing. She was a mess.

Until, one morning, she showed up at my door with her Jeep loaded down with clothes and random belongings. She'd sold everything else and was leaving, running away, with no destination in mind. Eventually, she made it to Seattle (from Texas) and then backtracked to Colorado, the only state she'd driven through where she felt *it*.

Her Jeep died a few days after reaching Denver so she took the money she had left and--I kid you not--bought an empty school bus. She now lives in said school bus and paints and creates beautiful jewelry and mosaics and such. She's never been happier.

Obviously, you don't have to take such drastic measures, but why not immerse yourself in some new experience? And, as for your introverted nature and your neuroses, well, so what? We've all got our quirks. They make us unique and goofy and slightly cool. Embrace them. I did mine. I love my weirdness. It makes me me.

Best of luck through this rough patch.

Gary Clarke
09-08-2008, 12:40 PM
Hey Riley,

When you're just about to step through a door to a new world, it's sometimes very difficult to see that what you're leaving behind isn't necessarily the best there is to be had in life. It's hard to let go of the really cool, amazingly glittery fantasy stuff and take a deep breath and step out into the fog of what we call 'real life'

'Real Life' feels confusing, its filled with shades of grey and it’s damned hard work But it's also the fuel for a million different types of fantasy and tons more stories then you would ever conceive of if you stay locked up inside your own head.

It's only by stepping through that door and out into the smog that you will discover not only yourself, and those things in life that you don't yet know you love, but also your true potential as a writer.

It is abundantly clear from your letter that you really can write. You write the socks off of most authors that I know. What you're suffering at the moment is the realisation that you've out grown your material. It’s a depressing moment in anyone’s life. But believe me It is nothing but a moment. As soon as you allow yourself to embrace the rest of your life and whatever it brings you, then you will discover sources of new inspiration that you would not have thought possible.

Oh, and Riley, don't let the bad guys get you down. Always, always always ask yourself 'why should I care what that jerk thinks of me?' Then tell yourself 'I shouldn't care' because the only thing that matters is that you do the best you can for both yourself and others. Don't take every small thing that happens and beat yourself to death over it. You miss too much of the good stuff that way ... and a lot of the really good stuff is so tiny that its very easy to miss

*hugs* Get through this, ok? Then give yourself permission to really like what's on the other side.

CynicalRyan
09-08-2008, 12:50 PM
Itís just. . . Gods, itís over. This is an epilogue.
There are no epilogues.

Besides amateur comes from Latin roots:

amātor, "lover, devoted friend, devotee, enthusiastic pursuer of an objective,"

JJ Cooper
09-08-2008, 01:08 PM
I lived then I wrote. Go explore life for a while.

There's no rule on age when it comes to being published.

JJ

Mr Flibble
09-08-2008, 04:49 PM
The communication is hollow. Look at these people—they don’t have the magic, the feeling, the resonance I used to find in the characters I created for myself. These people don’t know my heart and don’t care about the dreams that used to be. To find the intelligent is to find the snob, or overachiever. To find the humble is to find the dull or the recluse reclusive as me.

May I quote the Earl of Rochester?


For what's in my mind is far more interesting than what's outside my mind.

Which describes me and a lot of other writers.


How can I believe I have any talent when people write for five years, only to perform spectacularly, and I write for near fourteen, and receive nothing but blood in the palm from neglected roses?

And for most of those fourteen years you were a child, with a child's perspective. Now you're a grown up, with an adult perspective. It will mean changes in your writing - but changes for the better. But only if you keep going.

Maybe you need to re charge for a while, let your mind wander where it will and experience new people and places with no pressure to write. If nothing else this will give you more things to write about! Hopefully it will also pull you from your dark place too

Eighteen is a hard, hard year to get through. There is no way I'd ever want to be there again. But you will get through this, you will come out the other side and know more about yourself and people and life in general. And then you'll be able to write a damn fine novel.

Good luck kiddo, thinking of you. http://img25.echo.cx/img25/5546/sc0877dq.gif

tehuti88
09-08-2008, 06:18 PM
Not to disparage everything everyone else has offered (which is far better and more encouraging than anything I could offer), but sometimes, "being a teenager" has little to do with such feelings. I'm 31, almost 32. I identify with a lot of what the OP posted. It has nothing to do with my age and everything to do with the individual way my emotions work and the past experiences I've had with people. This is just the way I've always been, even when I was little--the only difference was back then, I had a few friends. It didn't get better once I grew up. If anything I'm even more isolated now that I don't have to be surrounded by other kids in school. I'm fairly certain most of the "friendships" I had when younger were just friendships of convenience, and these people wouldn't have befriended me if we hadn't just been in the same place at the same time every day. I never hung out with them after school, went places, did anything like that like most friends seem to do. They never bothered keeping in touch after we graduated. (The few times they tried to get back in touch, they just as quickly disappeared again.) I never shared my imaginary worlds with them because frankly, they didn't care. Now all I do is write stuff, still for people who probably don't care.

There are numerous other factors which I won't get into as sometimes certain things work for some people, and for other people they don't, but I just thought I'd mention that. I hate it when people trivialize somebody's feelings based on their age and tell them they'll "grow out of it," because this is obviously not always the case.

To the OP, also obviously, I feel a lot of where you're coming from. I have no advice or comforting words to offer, seeing as it's a place I'm still in myself, and am in every day of my life--I woke up into it today in fact. This world and all its flaws and problems and shortcomings will be here tomorrow and the day after, too. I can't offer you any consolation over that because it would just be empty words. I know how angry I get inside when people say, "This will pass," because I've been waiting for years (and doing things to try to get it to pass, too).

The only thing I can offer is to ask you to keep reading and keep writing, even if to you it sucks, and the rest of the world will never get it, and the rest of the world might not even be worth it. (All the time I spend mentally with my characters, wishing there were just one person in the real world who I could empathize with the way I do with them! I'm shocked that empty smalltalk seems to be what counts as "friendship" among most people nowadays. Isn't there ever anything deeper?) I can't say there will be a point when things will get better and all the reading and writing and work you put into it will be worth it, because honestly, I don't know. But you have to give yourself some reason to keep getting up every day and facing it yet again.

I don't know if there's a reason, or if at some point I will just give up myself, but at the moment I keep getting up and writing, because I know nothing better to do. I don't want to give up...yet. If only because giving up is even scarier than keeping on.

That's really all I can say.

Phaeal
09-08-2008, 06:22 PM
The tragedy of man is that the young can't listen to the old. Then again, this may be a fortunate failing, forcing each person to rely on his own experience. And then again, wisdom may be striking a balance between finding out for yourself and learning from those who've already been there.

Writing prodigies are extremely rare. When your raw material is the whole world and all of humanity and all the realms imagination can traverse, how can you expect to be an expert at eightteen? Yet our now-now-now, youth-obsessed culture seems to have created a generation in way too big a hurry for fame and fortune. On these forums, I constantly read very young writers fretting about publication, truly seeming to believe they have to have a successful book before they hit the dreaded age of twenty or twenty-one.

People, young and old, slow down and stop agonizing about the result. Instead try living in the process, and loving it.

Art is long.

Susan Gable
09-08-2008, 06:28 PM
I have accepted the fact that I am a fake. That I am an amateur. That I am a hack with no unique ideas, energy, determination, or skill. .


I feel like this often. No kidding.

I think we all go through bouts where we feel we suck, and we shouldn't be doing this, and the magic is gone from the universe.

18 is a crappy age. <G> You're legally an adult, and yet, there's so much in front of you yet, so much you don't know, haven't done, etc. That can be a bit scary. The good news is 18 doesn't last forever. <G> If you don't feel like writing right now, then don't.

But it will be there waiting for you when you're ready again. Because writers can stop writing for a while...but then we often go back to it, even if it's in a different form.

Hang in there!

Susan G.

Cranky
09-08-2008, 06:37 PM
I feel like this often. No kidding.

I think we all go through bouts where we feel we suck, and we shouldn't be doing this, and the magic is gone from the universe.

18 is a crappy age. <G> You're legally an adult, and yet, there's so much in front of you yet, so much you don't know, haven't done, etc. That can be a bit scary. The good news is 18 doesn't last forever. <G> If you don't feel like writing right now, then don't.

But it will be there waiting for you when you're ready again. Because writers can stop writing for a while...but then we often go back to it, even if it's in a different form.

Hang in there!

Susan G.

What Susan said. I've gone through bouts of not-writing myself. Going through one right now, as a matter of fact. :)

And I'll tell you something else. At 18, I wasn't nearly as good as you are. I'm still probably not as good, and I'm going to be 33 in a couple of months.

Besides, what's wrong with being an amateur? It's not a permanent state, or a negative thing unless you allow it to be. If you need to take some time off, then that's what you need to do. If writing is in you, it'll come back.

Toothpaste
09-08-2008, 07:00 PM
I totally agree with what the others have been saying here. But here is something I learned that you may want to just keep with you in the back of your mind. For ever I avoided those kinds of people you talk about, the ones who appeared to lack an imagination. I avoided the "scene", pubs and clubs, and all those places those kinds of people went to (in my mind). I never felt like I was ever a teenager, having experienced what real teenagers go through. I had my first drink in University. I was totally comfortable and confident in my decisions. And happy. I had my friends who were like me.

But in the last few years, I have started to relax a bit. This means being a little less judgmental of people who aren't like me. A little less judgmental of the places these people go to. And I learned that sometimes these people have fun too. I will never like the club scene, but I did learn that I liked dancing so if someone insisted we go to a club, I could go along and still have a fun time. I learned I didn't mind the odd drink, I just didn't like getting wasted. Also living in residence at university brought me in contact with some of those "popular" kids from high school. Many of them were pretty annoying to be honest, but there were a few who were, you know, normal people too.

Basically my point is, we feel the judgments of people so strongly, but we also judge. Look at how you describe your peers. Now you may be right, but how can you possibly know what goes on in their hearts, in their minds, if you don't get to know them? I'm not saying there aren't vapid people out there, but one of the things you learn growing up is that highschool is a pretty horrible time. And everyone suffers through it and are desperate to find themselves.

So. Try not to close yourself off from the world, even if you think the world has done it to you. Try not to judge yourself and others quite as harshly as you do. And remember that you are allowed to "experience" life without losing yourself. I never went through a rebellious period. I've always been goody two shoes me. What I did do was learn that even goody two shoes me could enjoy some of those things out there that seem totally out of my world, in my own way and in my own time.

You don't need to lose yourself by opening yourself up.

Mad Queen
09-08-2008, 07:15 PM
Being a teenager sucks. This is the worst part of your life. It only gets better--if you let it. I promise.
Absolutely. In five years, you'll look back and laugh.

roncouch
09-08-2008, 07:36 PM
I am seventy going on eighteen. I have no words of wisdom to offer other than an assurance things will either get better - or worse. It's up to you to choose which one.
Ron

Lady Cat
09-08-2008, 07:57 PM
When I was 18 I was defined by two things in my life: my art and my writing. My best friends were my books. I wasnít smart enough to be a nerd, instead I was that invisible kid that no one every noticed (except my English teachers). When my classmates went off to college I stayed and got married instead. I gave up my art and I tried to give up my writing, but the writing always came back.


I sometimes think that writing must be one of the loneliest occupations in the world. I didnít have many friends in highschool, and only one that Iíve kept in touch with. Of my few friends now, sheís the only one that really understands my compulsion to write, even though Iíve only had one article and one short story published (for no pay) after 30 years. Sure I get discouraged and I even set the writing aside for a while. But itís always there waiting when I come to my senses.


Why not create a unicorn to use its magic horn to cleanse that algae-scudded pool? Eighteen is far too young to give up on your dreams, no matter what they are!

Hang in there Riley!:Hug2:

Tirjasdyn
09-08-2008, 08:57 PM
FTLo

You're only 18.. Lifes not even close to over.

:e2smack:

aka eraser
09-08-2008, 10:07 PM
Perspective just might be the handiest tool for getting through life and it's absolutely essential for any writer worth a lick. Time, distance, experience, and maturity all have a part to play in gaining it.

Don't be in such a rush. Relax. Experience life. Before you know it, those mountains really will look like molehills.

Sassee
09-08-2008, 11:43 PM
Riley, that letter would be one kickass opening to a novel of self-discovery, of a protagonist, a novelist, searching for a new dream realm to replace the one he's lost.

I second this. This would make an excellent story. They say you should write what you know... well, take your current situation and write about it. Make something out of it. It's cathartic... trust me. I did it.

I also felt like this at 18 and 19, and I actually went through with letting my grades slip and everything else. Dropped out of college. I regret it now, though somehow five years later I wound up moved to another state with an awesome husband, good job, freshly started college classes, and I've been writing more than ever.

Maybe you just need a change of scenery?

I definitely agree that this is a "shedding your scales" phase, so to speak. You can let the despair of it take you over, or you can throw it the finger and take *it* over. It's really up to you.

Come on, don't let the bad guys win.

SPMiller
09-09-2008, 12:38 AM
I'm not even going to read this little letter, because I'm sure it reads exactly like stuff you've posted in the past.

If you're seeking reassurance that other people have gone through what you're experiencing, then yes, some of us have. And some of us have gone through worse.

I didn't know if I wanted to be a writer, as I've told you before. So I went to university for computer science instead. I left school with a degree and got some industry experience. Although I'm certain writing is how I want to spend my life, I have a backup plan in case it doesn't work out. Since you're an adult now, it's time to start thinking pragmatically. And part of that will be realizing that you aren't as good today as you will be in five years--which is true of every writer, great and terrible alike.