August 30, 2014 by musehick
I was just thinking that I used to write about some weird shit because I developed this way of revising that involved writing poems. I ended up with a lot of psychological terms, and literary ideas and philosophical ideas deeply embedded in lyrical contexts. Back then I was writing more from a conceptual place and I suppose a lot of the emotional realities and situations I was writing about were imagined or gathered from second-hand data, rather than being strictly autobiographical. of course this isn’t totally true, because I wasn’t living in a box.
But there was definitely a shift in the writing where the life started to take centre stage and then the concepts were slaved to the expression of the emotion and the things I was living through. Can I say that as well as being qualitatively different that the quality differed? Well, with experience, and I am writing a whole 21 years later, one would hope they’d gotten better in some aspects. The thing is, back then I was studying hard, I could drink hard, and I have feeling my thought processes may have been significantly quicker, so that lent something to what I was writing. Trade offs and compromises aren’t always obvious – it is almost like psychological ergonomics – in the same way that slouching in a crappy chair is going to fuck with posture, being in a certain psychic space for a prolonged period of time is going to effect how you think and process data. I am not saying I feel stupider at all, in fact I think I have a deeper understanding, if anything; but there is something about how you use and are willing to use the data when you are younger that might be a little more fluid and less effort-based. And of course all of this is purely from personal observation, so could be totally limited to me, as all these subjective thing I talk about are. One has to believe that the commonality of human experience means we aren’t operating in a vacuum though, so one assumes that the pressures come to bear on themselves bear on others too.
Anyway, I don’t believe that there is a writer out there who isn’t give pause to reflect upon the evolution of their craft at certain points. Moving from one project to the next most want to avoid repetition of ideas, so even if they aren’t given to hours of self analysis, they are at least going to be sat there checking themselves out through the circus mirror of their work.
Self regard seems an unavoidable side effect of doing this thing, but that also means that self knowledge is likewise unavoidable. Of course you can do diddly squat with that or you can use it to grow. I think it deepens the work, and while it may lose a little of the experimentation of youth (I don’t necessarily think that is that true) it does gain a humanity that is very valuable.
I hope none of this suggests becoming less punky and edgy, and getting out the slippers and becoming cuddly, because that idea can go fuck itself. Yuck. I am just interested in the change and am not advocating any kind of acceptance of the literary equivalent of middle-aged spread, god forbid! Just that at some point 60 year old Michael Douglas can’t pretend he is 20 year old Michael Douglas; nip and tuck aside, it starts to take on the patina of pathetic. Live with it gracefully or it will screw you over into embarrassment.