The following is an article I began months ago and never completed. Near the halfway point is where I picked up the idea and finished the piece. This post is listed in the “Beginnings and Stumbles” category and is one of thirteen previously started writings which I am endeavoring to finish and publish. At the end of each I will place a poll just for the fun of it! If you like polls, chime in!
I once knew I could win.
Life. Sports. Intellectual battles. Financial battles. Romantic battles. All battles.
Then age, time, experience, catastrophes, life and a myriad of other phenomena overwhelmed my mind, my heart, my soul. How about you? Do you stand old enough to understand? Old enough defines itself not as an age. Old enough rests in the marrow of your soul’s bones. Old enough realizes the breath you take each moment finds itself rejuvenating a body which one day will expire. One day that last breath will not be found.
Most often, however, our perception of “life” does not have to be so skewed as to crush our emotions into abject sadness. We need to know we can win.
I’ve reached a point where I know I will never be able to accomplish all I desire in story-telling (writing) in my lifetime. This fact causes much trauma in my heart and mind. Once upon a time, I truly believed I would write the most incredible words. I would write them and the computer would begin to smoke, either from overload or satisfaction, take your pick. I would be done. I would reach my zenith. I could no longer dream of writing anything better.
The color of words would allow me to paint my white-screen canvas into the masterpiece of the millennia.
Ok, delusions of grandeur aside, I felt for years my magnum opus would spring forth and I would dazzle myself and those around me. So much rushes at you when you endeavor to take on “artist” as vocation. Writing most often becomes self-fulfillment with little compensation.
Yet the good we squeeze from our words of many hues delivers hope, passion, rage against the machine bravado, and the sense one may actually be able to escape the mundane and soar the stratosphere of creativity for that glimpse into millions of psyches all at once. Yes, writers dream. Writers work to translate unspeakable concepts into black symbols on white pages in an effort to convey to others the mysteries, tragedies, excitements, and allures we’ve danced through our minds.
I once knew I could write like that. I once knew the challenge of labeling what my creative mind experiences with keystrokes of color could manifest as a winnable endeavor. Mortality steps in for many of us. We get beat down one too many times by systems, circumstances, setbacks. We feel we’ve lost.
How do you win when you fully realize the war of life as we know it ends in the defeat of death? For writers, my sense is that we hope our words will live on. Our one shot at immortality. Our lasting statements on life and love and pain and corruption and debauchery and silence and cacophony and silken songs and heavy metal and screamo and all we see, hear, feel, touch, smell, taste, learn. Yes, death robs us of a corporeal voice, but our words may live on. After all, Shakespear is still read. Dante. Wordsworth. Homer. Plato. Socrates. Surely they live on through their words.
But did those writers (accepting Socrates, of course, who wrote little. He was an orator…), believe that long after the decay of their mortal bodies, they would reside in the minds of millions upon millions of souls? Did they know this? Or did they proceed upon their hopes and aspirations?
Yes, I believe each of us wishes to leave a mark, something we’ll be remembered for throughout the millennia. Possibly not on a totally conscious level, but at the very least taking up residence in a subconscious form our motivation to create thrives due to this line of thinking.
In my case, I get paralyzed by the lack of time and the wasted years. Foolishness when I think of Isaac Asimov’s quote, “If the doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” Asimov had the right idea. He possessed the idea of winning against all odds. From Star Trek, the ultimate Kobyashi Maru scenario. The “no win” scenario. We know death will overcome us at some point. What do we do in the face of such a knowledge?
I work each day on “knowing I can win.” The main issue becomes the definition of “win.” I work on striving to write profound words and concepts. Even more so, I work diligently to help kindle the fire of other aspiring writers to do the same. Out of the ashes of our time and history could come some of the great works of modern man, at least “modern” defined as our present age.
I look around and find that true wisdom, true roots of knowledge were born in the ancient writers. As we modernize and add technologies to our human resume, I find we actually become more stupid in the knowledge of important, personal truths. We lose touch more and more with what it is to be human and become more and more like the machines we create. Automatons devoid of deep POSITIVE emotion. Most of our emotions fuel off negativity these days. Our media would be a total disgrace if not for the fact that we perpetuate it by viewing and listening and buying into everything put before us.
Before I digress into the cesspool of negativity raining into our eyes and brains by our technologies, my point here is that we own the choice, the option, to win on our terms. To go out swinging. To grab for the stars. To strive for the grail of our words carrying themselves to future generations. Our “win” may be defined as production. Quality. The pursuit of truth. Even in fiction writing, as Stephen King said, “Fiction is the truth within the lie.”
Be emboldened. Be confident. Don’t get complacent. Never stop learning and searching out your personal truths. Help others with your words, whether they be entertainment or self-help or educational or historical. Do your absolute best. Write it real. Write your truths. Strive to impact your world in the manner you desire.
Ray Bradbury once admonished, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Obviously I love science fiction. Bradbury also stated in Farenheit 451, “Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” Step away from the lie of our modern technologies and seek a voice to rise above the din of the ridiculous and absurd which assaults us each day.
Strive to win. Win your battles. Know that each keystroke stands as bold defiance in the face of certain death. Write your legacies and your truths and slip into that long goodnight with the mindset of positivity. The mindset of winning despite eventual expiration. I don’t care how old or young. We all own an expiration date in this life. The only way to win is to dedicate yourself to the prospect of winning every single day.
I leave you with another quote from Bradbury, likely my favorite author who currently lives on through me and millions of others, “You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” We are in the business of remaking our world. If we’re not, as writers, we most certainly toil in the wrong business.
Go out today. Win your next battle. The greatest thing about this philosophy? Each day you get up and write, each time you put thoughts to the page – you win. You win the moment. You win the day. I say, go for the win.