Not too long ago, I was a rather depressing young man. I saw the world as an ugly place, and I saw humanity as a deep and dark cesspool. My novel is a reflection of my perspective as it was years ago. If I have done my job correctly, the tone is marked by sadness over the loss of humanity that comes with living in a large city and, arguably, living in the harsh world in general. My protagonist Mark must face these facts and must essentially “grow up” and deal with these harsh realities that fly in the face of his sensitive idealism.
Like I have often repeated, the narrative of my novel is already completed. That is, the structure of it is complete. Of the 88,000 words that I have written, I have already written most of the novel. The themes as they stand right now revolve largely around loneliness, loneliness that is caused partly by the urban environment, and partly by one’s idealism, moral sensitivity, and strong sense of self. But as I wrote more and more, I discovered a theme that I didn’t first expect.
I wish to develop the theme of lost innocence more deeply. In order for me to do so, I need to access that angst, sadness, and idealism. I need to feel that deep sense of sadness, and I must find a way to mourn the death of innocence and childhood. I need to recapture that pain so that I can express it in my work. The problem is that I myself have grown up. As time wore on, and as I (hopefully) grew wiser, I saw that the world simply was. It was neither good nor bad. Rather, it simply was the way it was. I saw that it was not the world that needed to change, but own perspective. I have gone through the maturation that is necessary to survive in the real world. Though I still pine for more innocent times and to experience the delight that comes with magical moments, I have lost thatsenseof idealism, and in its place there is now a sense of acceptance of the so-called ugliness of the world. I have accepted the truth of things; and rather than thinking of what should be and what could be, I allow myself to experience reality and the truths of the world without much in the way of judgment. And without the angst, without the idealism, I am having trouble continuing with my novel.
I am finding it more and more difficult to continue work on my novel because that sense of urgency to get my message across has been blunted by the passage of time and the maturation that it often brings. I no longer hold the same beliefs that I did four years ago, at least not with the same fervor and intensity. The world has dulled me and beaten down my stubborn perspective of idealism. Where I once would have recognized myself in Mark in most respects, I see but a glimmer of myself in him now. Just about the only thing in Mark that exists in me with the same intensity is my nearly religious adherence to wearing suits, paying a heavy premium in terms of fitting into my environment.
Luckily, I have a friend of mine who is generous enough to be something of a muse to me. Mya’s greatest asset is her highly practical viewpoint that differs so much from my own.
It should come across as no surprise to anyone that I had a difficult childhood mired with difficulties beyond the normal growing pains. And so it should also come as no surprise that what I never had is what I desire most: the happiness of childhood. After all, as we all know, the grass is always greener on the other side.
On the other hand, Mya had a relatively healthy childhood that was unfettered by dysfunction. Although it was not necessarily an easy one, she did have the love and support of her father. Her development from childtoadolescent to adult was relatively normal. And as such, she did not lament the death of innocence and childhood. She had her fill of that, and she retains a touch of her childhood: she still has a bit of kid inside her.
Her views on innocence and childhood are without a doubt extremely valuable to me. I never presumed that many others would share my view. But being only human, I never could see outside my own experiences without the aid of someone else’s experiences. Though Mya is probably more practical and less sentimental than most, I assume that most people had roughly the same healthy sort of upbringing that Mya did. Thus, her views help temper my own and help me understand what others’ reaction to the themes of my novel might be.
So now that I can see that others may not necessarily share my lamentations, it becomes doubly important for me to heighten those themes in my novel. I do wish to tie the theme of lost innocence with urban loneliness and the general concept of living in a big city like New York. I have spoken with some people who are non-native New Yorkers and a few people told me that they agree that innocence is the first thing to go in a big city. It’s a comforting thought to me to know that my own instincts are in line with what some others think.
I am trying my best to finish my novel. One of my greatest motivations to do so lies in the fact that I wish to move on from the sadness. When I write, I need to access that part of myself, and doing so brings me back down into a moody funk that I would rather not go through for the sake of my mental health. I still have plans to finish it by the end of this summer. And when I am done, I can finally leave the past behind and move forward with a clean new slate for both my personal inner life and my creative life¶