I keep finding white hairs in my beard…
I’m not saying that I’m old or anything. Thirty isn’t really old, is it? I mean, I don’t feel old. Most of the time, I still think of myself as being the same asshole teenager I was a decade ago. Then, I start working on writing, and I realize exactly how far I’ve come in life.
Right now, I’m working on the second Seven Keys Saga book. If you haven’t read the first book yet, you can pick it up for free today, (offer ends on 4/14/14). It might put some of what I’m talking about here in perspective, or maybe not. It isn’t a necessity either way.
You see, Choices started out as a pair of really crappy short stories. One was a straight up Dresden-clone short story about a dude killing the boogey man on a train. The other was a biographical story about something that happened to me when I was nineteen. Somewhere along the lines of struggling through dozens and dozens of drafts of garbage and crap, the two kind of blurred into a single story, and Terry Howard was born.
If you’ve read Choices, you probably know that I didn’t exactly depict my hero as being particularly heroic. He’s whiney, selfish, and more-often-than-not, offensive. He has a hard time dealing with other people. He’s usually a pretty huge dick about it, too. He simultaneously believes that he’s both better and worse than everyone around him.
Just like I was at nineteen.
You see, there’s a lot of biography of myself in Choices. I was, and in some ways still am, a horrible human being. I was living alone in a shitty basement apartment, increasingly isolating myself from the world until I met a new group of people. These people refused to let me wallow in my own self-loathing. It’s been 11 years, and I still don’t know why they cared. Some of them are still a huge part of my life. Others have moved on. You know, the way things happen in life.
At least one of them is reading Choices right now, and will tell me things like, “Oh, God, I remember that.”
You might read that book and hate Terry. Its okay. He is a completely repulsive person being lifted up by the much better people around him. I’m hoping that throughout the series, I can actually show him growing up, becoming better.
I think that’s the entire point of fiction, isn’t it? It gives us this window of separation from ourselves that we can use to examine ourselves.
I guess, in looking back at what I’ve written, I didn’t realize I had so much rage for my younger self. I didn’t realize that I was still, in a lot of ways, looking at myself through that filter of guilt and regret. That was one of the reasons I started this blog. I wanted to heal. I wanted to get better. I guess, I didn’t get as far as I wanted to.
So, now I have these white hairs in my beard. I keep plucking them out, because, well, they stand out against the rest of the ruddy mass of curls, but also because I’m not sure I deserve sage grey-beard status just yet. I definitely don’t feel like I’ve paid for the wisdom that comes with that sort of title. I don’t know.
I guess I just needed to take a step back and look at myself again before diving back into the second book. Its harder to write than the first book because fewer of the stories are real. That happens when you set your story in a world where magic exists and the government has a spook team to track it.
Thanks for reading.