I’ve come to realize the major difficulty in trying to write my novel. Over the last three years, I’ve grown and matured quite a bit. I struggle with the younger point of view that exists in my earlier drafts of my novel. Where I once lamented the death of innocence and decried the minor injustices that we observe in daily urban living, I have now adjusted. Where I once believed that women should, in theory, go for the men they are interested in, I now see that there is no way around biological and social conditioning: men must be the hunters in this game of love, and that’s just the way it is. Many of my views have changed now, and many of them are no longer as compatible with the intensely lonely and horrified Mark that I’ve written so far.
In the Journal of Gerontology, W. Dennis charted out the period of major life works for different creative fields. For novelists, the top three highest ages from highest to lowest is in the author’s fifties, the sixties, and the thirties. I believe that it’s due to the time it takes to craft a meaningful novel. During our twenties, our views have not yet matured. They are still going through changes. Life takes its toll, and the harsh realities of existence dull one’s sensitivity. Earlier in my life, I held a deep sense of horror at the world, and my idealism was rather intense. In time, that gave way to a more calm pragmatism. As such, the pain and angst that once drove the creation of my novel has been removed, and my perspective has now been tempered by life experience (that isn’t to say that I am suddenly wise though).
I believe that major works of literature are created later in an author’s life for this reason. Without perspective, an author can only hope to create a work of literature that is meaningful. Although that is not to say that young writers cannot produce something of value, it would be unusual for someone young to do so. As far as I can tell, writing takes years upon years of work to get any good at, and that’s just the craft itself. Then you have the art of storytelling, the art of creating characters, and much more.
Bret Easton Ellis—whose claim to fame came young—said that he was embarrassed at some of the things he wrote when he was younger, which is to be expected. It’s the same way that I feel now. Three years after the beginning of my journey, I look back on my older writings and am a little embarrassed at the blunt lack of sophistication in it. Yet, the themes still resonate with me. I can only hope to rekindle that fire that drove me to produce.
As all this relates to my novel, my aging is actually beneficial. The first half has always been about Mark’s inability to fit into an immature world of lusty leering men, sports bars, dance clubs, and late-night antics with the boys. At the end of this first arc, Mark is left completely alone, and he essentially has a breakdown. Once he has hit rock bottom, only then can I begin to move him into a more adult world. He meets an older woman who serves as his guide into adult life. And through their relationship, he adapts to the maladies of the world and learns to function in it like any other regular person has to.
The first part of the novel is mostly completed because most of it was written by my less-mature self from three years ago. It is the second half that I had trouble with. How does Mark grow up? I couldn’t answer the question because I myself had not grown up completely. But because I have since shed many of the maladaptive views that I once held, I am more capable of answering that question. And so now it is a question of going further and completely answering the question. I must gain perspective so that I can complete my novel.