Saturday, December 13, 2014

Nineteen

Now Playing: James Newton Howard ft. Jennifer Lawrence - The Hanging Tree

It's become a bit of a tradition of mine to quote Stephen King's On Being Nineteen (And A Few Other Things) to people who are turning nineteen. And since it's finally my turn, I'm going to share my reason for being so excited to turn this age >:D

From the essay:

“In 1967, I didn’t have any idea what my kind of story might be, but that didn’t matter; I felt positive I’d know it when it passed me on the street. I was nineteen and arrogant…at nineteen, it seems to me, one has a right to be arrogant; time has usually not begun its stealthy and rotten subtraction...

Nineteen’s a selfish age and finds one’s cares tightly circumscribed. I had a lot of reach, and I cared about that. I had a lot of ambition, and I cared about that. I had a typerwriter that I carried from one shithole apartment to the next, always with a deck of smokes on my pocket and a smile on my face. The compromises of middle age were distant, the insults of old age over the horizon. Like the protagonist in that Bob Seger song they now use to sell the trucks, I felt endlessly powerful and endlessly optimistic; my pockets were empty, but my head was full of things I wanted to say and my heart was full of stories I wanted to tell.

Sounds corny now; felt wonderful then. Felt very cool. More than anything else I wanted to get inside my readers’ defenses, wanted to rip them and ravish them and change them forever with nothing but story. And I felt I could do those things. I felt I had been made to do those things.

How conceited does that sound? A lot or a little? Either way, I don’t apologize. I was nineteen. There was not so much as a strand of gray in my beard. I had three pairs of jeans, one pair of boots, the idea that the world was my oyster, and nothing that happened in the next twenty years proved me wrong.

Then, around the age of thirty-nine, my troubles set in: drink, drugs, a road accident that changed the way I walked (among other things). I’ve written about them at length and need not write about them here. Besides, it’s the same for you, right? The world eventually sends out a mean-ass Patrol Boy to slow your progress and show you who’s boss. You reading this have undoubtedly met yours (or will); I met mine, and I’m sure he’ll be back. He’s got my address. He’s a mean guy, a Bad Lieutenant, the sworn enemy of goofery, fuckery, pride, ambition, loud music, and all things nineteen.

But I still think that’s a pretty fine age. Maybe the best age. You can rock and roll all night, but when the music dies out and the beer wears off, you’re able to think. And dream big dreams. The mean Patrol Boy cuts you down to size eventually, and if you start out small, why, there’s almost nothing left but the cuffs of your pants when he’s done with you. “Got another one!” he shouts, and strides on with his citation book in his hand.

So a little arrogance (or even a lot) isn’t such a bad thing, although your mother undoubtedly told you different. Mine did. Pride goeth before a fall, Stephen, she said[…]and then I found out—right around the age that is 19 x 2—that eventually you fall down, anyway. Or get pushed into the ditch.

At nineteen they can card you in the bars and tell you to get the fuck out, put your sorry act (and sorrier ass) back on the street, but they can’t card you when you sit down to paint a picture, write a poem, or tell a story, by God, and if you reading this happen to be very young, don’t let your elders and supposed betters tell you any different. Sure, you’ve never been to Paris. No, you never ran with the bulls at Pamplona. Yes, you’re a puissant who had no hair in your armpits until three years ago—but so what? If you don’t start out too big for your britches, how are you gonna fill ‘em when you grow up? Let it rip regardless of what anybody tell you, that’s my idea; sit down and smoke that baby.”


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I love that essay so much--and that's just a tiny part of it.

It's silly to place importance on ages like they're the only thing that can define your life for that year, but though I get the usual apprehension at the idea of turning twenty, thirty, forty, I'm not truly afraid of getting older. I'm not going to dread my twenty-nine birthday like my life will end right afterwards.

But it seems birthdays, more so than any other days of celebration or importance, are times of reflections. So that's what I'm doing right now. Reflecting. And thinking ahead.

A few years ago, I promised myself I'd start querying once I turned nineteen. It was a bit of a dangerous promise since it was likely I would have never finished anything by this age or even gotten well enough at writing to be publishable. But I have seen a growth in it, as have my professors. I have a novel that needs to be revised and edited, another that needs to be finished and expanded, plus two more story ideas. I know how to get in contact with CPs and beta readers, and I know how long to wait in between edits so I don't hit burn out.

Even if I send my first query at December 12th, 2015, I think I'll consider it an accomplishment. I just want to try. And if--well, when--I get rejected, I know I'm going to be happy I gave it a shot. Oh, I'm sure there'll be tears and frustrated fits of anger, but who cares? I have to try. It won't kill me to try.

Besides, this is supposed to be a fearless age. If this is really what I want to do the rest of my life, I might as well start now. I'll probably get kicked down a lot, but I doubt I'll have a single regret ten years from now.

I don't know yet what'll happen this year. I'm graduating, and that's kind of scary. But it's also kind of a relief. I finally feel like I'm moving forward--at a snail's pace, but still, I'm advancing, and nothing's more important than that.
~Becky

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
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