Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Leading Donald

I was fortunate to get the last place on the course.  So yesterday I re-entered the world of education, violently yanked into the blazing masochism of getting up early and spending time with other humans. 

It sucks.

The brilliant plan was to take an IT course.  This way when I applied for office jobs, I would have an actual qualification, rather than vague notions. 

The plan is already rather shoddy in that the course is during the day.  That time when jobs are.  So that’s not going to work.  It’s populated with adult learners, who tend to ask stupid questions every fifteen seconds and smell bad.  It’s also really long for some reason.  I can’t imagine how it can take 180 hours to learn how to use Microsoft Office.  Although considering yesterday in three hours we learnt one thing and that was how to put a shortcut on a desktop, perhaps that’s rather clearer.

When I returned home, exhausted from a day of actually doing something, if it could be called something, which is an exaggeration, I barely managed any writing, because then it was time to mope around with the Suicide Buddies (as in, if we don’t get married soon, we’re screwed), watching Jurassic Park III for Valentine’s Day. 

My writing consisted of trying to put an opening on Working Title: Donald Benton: Superdork and then deciding that it didn’t work with the story at all and dumping it. 

I know how the first story starts, but not the novel as a whole.  I put a sort of ‘prologue’ but not a prologue, because prologues are universally awful and pointless, in which the narrator tells the origin story of his hero, a superhero from a comic he reads.  This works because of the obvious parallel between the catalyst that creates the superhero and Donald’s own much referenced but never confirmed suicidal tendencies.  What doesn’t work is that if that is the first thing the reader gets, then they won’t know this isn’t about Donald, and when the first delusions start to pop up, it’ll change how they perceive them.  I don’t want the reader to assume Donald is a superhero, I want them to question whether it’s real or is he just mad.  So I needed a pre-prologue to set up the real Donald to make it clear that the superhero story is a story he is reading.

But it just doesn’t fit.  It’s too long and over expressive.  It isn’t the same tone as the rest of the story and it makes Donald far too self-aware.  The whole point is he never addresses his issues so we never know if they’re real. Well, sort of anyway.  Whatever, it just doesn’t fit with the story at all.  So it’s gone.  Gone too is the superhero opening, for now.  Instead it comes in right near the end of the novel, which having not read it through yet because I only did it at about midnight, I have no idea if it works.

So, since I have no use for the redundant opening, here it is:

Life sucks sometimes.  People suck most of the time.  Sometimes it feels like all your insides are being wound up into this tiny ball, and all the vital bits are being ripped out, and you’re totally dead inside, and no one around you does anything to help.  And it’s not because they hate you and want you to suffer.  It’s not because they’re busy with their own life and they haven’t noticed.  It’s because they don’t care. 

Some people aren’t important.  If they suddenly died, they wouldn’t be missed.  Because you probably wouldn’t even remember they were dead.  You’d just think you hadn’t seen them in a while because they were busy or had moved.  You wouldn’t bother mourning them.  You do it to loads of people, every day.  The guy that runs the shop, a person you queue behind to get the bus, even acquaintances and cousins.  They’re just background characters to make your life feel more real.  If you stopped to care about everyone you ever met, you’d never get anywhere. 

It’s when you realise you are an unimportant background character that the problem starts.  You shouldn’t be background to everyone.  There should always be someone who would be affected if you weren’t there any more.

What if there isn’t?  What if you died, and no one cared?

Then you’d be me.

And when you feel like that, you have to hold on.  You have to find something that won’t go away and grab it with both hands, your heart, your mind.  Whatever you can.  Because if you let go, you’ll drown in the nothing that waits.

So find something that’s always there and love it.  It won’t love you back, but if you love it hard enough, then you’ll create something.  A tiny dent in reality to prove you are there.  A reason to exist. 

I found a comic.  It was called Electrifying Lionheart and it was the best story I ever read.

Actually, that’s way more lame than I remember from writing it yesterday.  Cutting it is an even better decision than just ‘what the hell is that, that doesn’t go at all’.

Y’know, now I realise that since I started writing this character a few years ago, I’ve picked up his way of talking.  I deliberately added in sort of clichéd lazy teen-speak to get into his voice, and now I actually talk/type like that.  Thanks a lot, Donald.

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