Monday, February 16, 2009

A Younger Man

I have been looking over my young writings again and uploaded an entry for the year 1989.

I make no claims for their value. That is not a judgement I can make. Whether or not I say this only because of the delight and comfort I gain from gazing into mirror images of my youth, I’m not sure, but anyway. To be certain I feel attached to them, almost protective, perhaps because they meant so much to me at the time. Back then, what was most real and honest about myself was funnelled into them in a way it never could be anywhere or to anyone else.

If it weren’t for the fact that internet space is free and endless (apparently?), that it will cost you nothing to read them except time - which may or may not be precious to you - I wouldn’t presume to burden you with them.

As I read them now, it’s clear they are the writings of a much younger man. The buoyant and restless, unselfconscious and ‘adolescent’ flavour of this 18 year old makes me, a 37 year old, laugh. I wouldn’t write such things now, even if I were to experience similar emotions or think similar thoughts. I can remember being this young man of course, but I couldn’t, despite that, be him again, if you see what I mean.

I think one of the points about 'growing up' is you become more sophisticated; you pay more attention to how your words will inevitably fit into the world of readers and other minds - even if you're only intending to write for yourself. You become therefore in a sense more self-conscious, as you become more sensitive to how your words will be received. There’s less of that sense of standing alone on a mountaintop, declaring and declaiming to the void in passionate, epic authenticity (or presumed authenticity, should we say). Or it could just be that as we age life becomes less fresh, as what happens to us becomes less new, but tends instead to repeat itself and so become less vivid; such that when we write this change is reflected in the greater serenity, or is it distance, of our style.

Anyway, I have no desire to patronise my younger self. He wouldn’t have liked it at the time so why do it now? Besides, the years 18-21 are the efflorescence of the rose of youth. They are our most idealistic years, and for that precious. For that they can be permitted their tones of extremity, if not indeed celebrated for them. I suppose?

Personally, I feel my best early writings (or at least those which I'm most fond of) were written not in 1989 but from 1990 to 1992. I hope to work on entries for those years too and on later ones as well, though I wrote very little between 1998 and 2005. Most of the writing is prose though some might be called 'prose/poetry' (the actual distinguishing characteristics of poetry remain, as it happens, rather unclear to me).

It may very well be wondered why I bother to do this. I cannot expect anyone will like them or appreciate them, but who knows? I ultimately do this for myself, or rather, to be more accurate, for the sake of the writings, since to such a great extent I'm no longer the person who wrote them. At the time of their composition it felt like they were the most important thing in my life, more real and important to me, indeed, than I was to myself. I showed them to nobody except Lee. I accept this was partially becasue I didnt want them to be criticised, given their role in my life. I was also, no doubt, driven by simple shyness, as well as by a lack of confidence about their worth. That said, I always sensed there was something in them that wanted to see the light of day. So now I'm glad I give them that opportunity.

1 comment:

sims said...

You're a pretty good writer dude. I like your style and the thought patterns are very easy to follow. It's funny because I was going over some poetry I wrote a long time ago and felt the very same way about them.