I think recently, and I do mean in the last three years, many of my anxieties about life and identity have been produced by change. Not change in my environment exactly, or even necessarily a difference in personality, though there are plenty of forces at work in both these settings. I mean a direct change in my writing and voice. If you’re familiar with this blog at all, you’ll know that I use monsters and fiction writing as a stepping-stone to confront my own painful and personal truths. Abuse, emotional damage, my daily dance with depression, and financial ruin have all had a monster labeled to them. However, in 2014 I started to notice that I didn’t need monsters anymore to talk about these things. I could discuss them head-on in nonfiction essays.
Since then, the universe has slightly rewarded me for this voice in the form of WordPress Discover, publications, acknowledgement from accredited colleagues far beyond my status, and hundreds of comments from readers like you.
Acknowledging the change in my voice, or in where my writing wants to go is beyond scary. I’ve spent years using monsters to get through the monotony of everyday life. I’ve built this whole self around these abominations. Now, they’re dwarfed by my ability to tell the truth without a devil in the wall. I can pin down the demons from my past. I don’t need to throw them into an interstellar prisons half-a-universe away. The mirror just doesn’t have the shadow of an imp hanging on my shoulder anymore, but a living and breathing man locked into the present.
Oddly, when I think about leaving some of my monsters behind, I think about putting my dog Millie down. She is the dachshund from the picture of me. She’s been gone for over a year now. I still think about her everyday. When I tried to kill myself in 2012, she was in the backseat of my car crying at me to close the door. Her whines drowned out the siren’s song, and I never threw myself off the High Bridge like a bird with a broken wing.
When I put her down from a variety of ailments, I could feel a sense of loneliness unlike any other. She wouldn’t be there for me again when the river waters would echo my name like some repeating requiem on a horror film. It was kind of okay, oddly. I loved her, and I wish she was still here, but she could rest. She had earned it. I couldn’t ask anything more from her.
I feel the same way for my monsters. They’ve been my crutch. The devil helping me through the door after a long day. It was always easier to be afraid of monsters, then be afraid of the things that had happened to me. I’m starting to stand without them and I feel scared, like I’m riding a bike without training wheels.
One way I comfort myself is by looking at change. Evolution is the most potent power on our planet. It always comes out on top. I have to look at my craft of writing and how its evolving within me as I progress. I might scramble at my lack of artistic identity. I might be afraid. The abyss might be bigger than it was before. I thought I had it cornered, but you never do. It is not some mouse caught between the trash and kitchen cabinet.
The truth is, your craft evolves as you do. It is a sad truth for certain. If only we could have some certain permanence in our lives. Writing is so much like riding a train. On this locomotive you stop at certain places. A fire forest. An upside-down palace with an old god sleeping in its center. A mountain where time repeats itself like a broken metronome. A basement where a little boy believes in monsters more than himself. Wherever it takes you on this living railroad, you have to realize that each stop is temporary. You might be there for a year, a minute, a second, or even a decade. You’ll never stop there completely.
They’re is something equally both terrifying and exhilarating about acknowledging this void of change. Where you fall on this spectrum is completely up to you. I know that as long as I have this knowledge that I feel better. As long as I know my monsters are still there, I’ll be okay.
They’ve too have earned some rest.