Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ambition and Unrequited Love

Another entry on love - don't you all just love these? Seems to be one of the subjects I'm capable of writing somewhat more compellingly on, anyway, so pull up a seat, grab your snack of choice, and hopefully enjoy.

In life, we've all our own aspirations - owning that house, having those kids to live vicariously through, winning that lottery, beating up that celebrity - and sometimes, every now and then, people's aspirations turn to something soft and sappy. Specifically, I'm talking about that love stuff. (Because everyone reaches that certain point when they're too old to be anything but pathetic in searching for meaningless sex, and when that time comes, you've gotta begin that desperate search for someone, anyone, willing to settle for you. That way, you don't have to feel so alone and can pretend you're actually in love with each other. Pop out some kids, while you're at it! Nothing strengthens an already fundamentally broken relationship like chucking some children into the equation!) Yeah, that junk some of the people you slept with along the way might've felt for you - and that you also might've felt for them. (Yeah, remember that time you wanted to see someone you slept with again, and not just for more sex? Clearly, ignoring and dismissing that impulse was your finest hour.) Or hey, remember that friend you had that you flirted with and had this unspoken and unacknowledged romantic tension with for years that maybe one of you should have said something about? And instead you let yourselves get out of touch instead of trying to stay in contact and really be open and honest about everything, because you might risk making yourselves vulnerable to one another, let alone perhaps even risk falling in love. There was always something more that needed to be said, something more to be done. Instead, you both stubbornly kept your traps shut in hopes that if anything were to happen, you wouldn't be the one to initiate it. Now that's love in the modern world.

As people become more afraid to truly open up to one another, to reach out and connect on the deepest levels (The kinds that actually don't involve genitalia.), unrequited love becomes all the more common an affliction. In my case, this is compounded by a history of scarring experiences with love and intimacy and my own introversion and general beta maleness. (Opposite the stereotypical alpha male, we live quiet, unobtrusive lives and tend not to do remarkable things, with risk evasion a central pillar of our character. Though obviously, both of these classifications are oversimplifications of individual character, simply going on sets of traits that tend to go hand-in-hand with many people.) These matters quickly turn something important in life, as we woefully incomplete creatures by nature ricochet around like pinballs, searching for someone to love and be loved by, into one's own personal Mt. Everest. And we humans? Most of us don't have it in us to climb - let alone surmount - a personal mountain of that scale.

Now, I'm not exactly a bag of sunshine and puppies myself, let alone any sort of optimist. My experiences with love have taught me firsthand that if I'm to use my brain at all in matters of the heart, it should be to suppress any impulse to say anything or act on any feeling. You fool, do you want everything to go horribly wrong again!? That's just how it is. Never anything along the lines of: Hey, she actually likes you as a person! You might just have a shot! Just imagine, what if she has feelings for you too! Going on experience, my brain immediately dismisses that possibility. Yeah, whatever, douchebag. My brain is kind of an asshole, but sadly, that's the product of my experiences. Traumatic love experiences do not beget confidence or optimism. I've been openly cynical and skeptical of all things love for a very long time now, even to the point of suspicion of my own feelings until I can ascertain that they are what I'm really feeling beyond the shadow of a doubt. That usually isn't too difficult though, at least, having learned to trust my own feelings more in recent years, and for some unfathomable reason, having actually developed a modicum of self-esteem - believe it or not.

Despite being that sort of person - hardly the picture of what women typically find attractive, going on firsthand experience and what I've always been told - I'm breaking beta male character, as I've touched on here before, in dedicating my first novel to a woman I've been in love with for nearly 6 years now and never confessed my feelings to. (I am finally doing so through plot subtext in this novel.) Despite plans to finish it by the end of last summer falling flat, my efforts to complete it by this coming spring (ETA sometime in March or April) are coming along smoothly. In fact, just the other day, I completed my full, polished draft of the first chapter and began sending it to test readers. I tend to be my own harshest critic at all times, in all aspects of life, but my readers so far, they have had no complaints in regards to the chapter. In fact, they apparently loved it, and are looking forward to the rest now. A bit of an ego booster to be sure, as I'm hardly used to being complimented, and never know how to take compliments. (Hence my not exactly responding to complimentary comments on here, though believe me, I do appreciate the kind words. They're quite encouraging.) And with that important milestone reached, I'm beginning to feel a bit of a nervous adrenaline rush. I've never gone so far as to do anything of this scale for anybody, after all. And as I've established, I'm no optimist - even at best, I'm expecting embarrassing rejection in front of the internet and world, in having publicly written at all about what I'm doing here. (Not with any goal of making this a spectacle in mind, but to personally challenge myself to admit things publicly I generally struggle with, and simply be honest with myself when effectively facing my entire bad history with love and standing up to it and all the baggage that entails.) I've already begun to lose sleep over the very thought of what I could be facing by later this year or sometime next year whenever the book hits shelves - as I need to find an agent and publisher within 2008 if it kills me (In the least, I've been getting good encouragement from readers, which definitely helps to spur me along in finishing this project and beginning the aggressive search for an agent, as I am writing this to be a story people would get something out of and want to read - something professional, that would sell. Of course, every other aspiring author on the internet says this, no doubt, but I will not allow myself to be knocked down. There is far too much at stake to settle for less, especially when working under a somewhat limited time frame.) - since as you can imagine, in going this far to express one's feelings for someone that you've kept buried for so long (And I can pretty much guarantee that this is the grandest thing I'll ever do for love. I don't know how I could top it, personally, and if it fails as it likely will, knowing my luck (Though it'd be fantastic if I were wrong for once, and something incredible came of my taking a risk like this, breaking out of my usual shell.), it just cements my being an epic failure in love.) tends to produce a great deal of anxiety. But I'll learn to deal with it.

(That last paragraph was a real mess with all those parentheses. I promise you my novel writing is a lot cleaner and easier to read than that. Best if you take the parentheses and the madness they make reading that paragraph as an indication of the havoc the complexities of love can easily wreak upon one's thought processes grammatically.)

At any rate, as I move further into 2008, the completion of my first novel - which is easily the best work I've ever written - and move towards the agent/publisher hunt are so close that I can practically feel them at my fingertips. It's both terrifying and exhilarating at once. Overwhelming, even. Having finished my undergraduate half-decade of college, the real world is coming at me full force as I juggle looking into grad school with getting a driver's license, establishing myself financially so I can manage loans for grad school, all while finishing up and moving to publish my first novel and pour out the contents of my heart to a woman I've owed that much to for many years now. I feel like I've just jumped out of a jet, and am caught in the free fall, keeping my fingers crossed that my parachute opens and everything works out before I hit the ground and gloriously completely self-destruct. Life, the real world, love - these are all terrifying things. But if you don't face them all head-on, then what is life?

There we go, a first blog entry of '08 that some of you might find worth reading. If you are interested in seeing the first chapter of Project 27 Days posted as a teaser in here, leave a comment, as I am quite tempted to post it here sometime in the coming month or two in order to see if I an drum up a little more interest before publication. I need this to succeed one way or another if it kills me, easily being the most important thing I've set out to do in this foolish, awkward life of mine. At any rate, it's always nice to get a little feedback, rarely as I do. And as usual, thanks for stopping by.


kiwi........... said...

WOW cool messages,I think you will do greater than you think,actually It looked like my story.Go for it and stay with it,I know you can do it.I got a few hints for publishers from either the library or buy a few at book stores(?)there's also ghost writers that will spice up your book and will be a sure sell.Good

Benjamin Fennell said...

Thanks for the support and dropping by! I'm doing my best and continuing to work on finishing the novel. Before I know it, it'll just be a matter of trying to contact all the agents I can and keeping my fingers crossed that I can find someone willing to represent me and the vision I'm trying to bring to the literary world.