Guest Post by Jared A. Carnie
I would like to welcome Jared A. Carnie back to my blog. Jared wrote a guest post which I hosted on here earlier this year. Here’s another one from him.
I used to think cynicism was important. I thought being cynical made me seem smart.
When you’re a kid in a room full of adults, the person who loudly and confidently declares how bad something is seems to be the one who has the most power.
But cynicism doesn’t save you. Being negative doesn’t help. On your deathbed there’s no redemption in getting to say ‘I told you this would all end badly’.
It took me a while to realise that the person who dismisses everything is usually the most bitter – and often the most afraid.
A lot of my novel, Waves, was written at a kitchen table on the Isle of Lewis. My girlfriend, Faye, was in the room next door. She was stuck in bed. She couldn’t sit up without getting dizzy. Her legs couldn’t hold her when she stood up and even reading or watching TV was too difficult. On some days she couldn’t hold a knife and fork or even chew food.
This was a challenge for my cynicism. Drinking a beer and pretending I was Bukowski wasn’t going to get me through this.
Faye, somehow, remained positive. If she had ten minutes a day where she was conscious and capable, she wanted to do something positive with it. She wanted to squeeze every drop of life out of days that she could. And slowly, through the internet, she found others. She found Meg and Sophia and Jenny and Charlotte and Pippa and Ali and Hayley and Sian and a thousand others who had illnesses determined to stop them and personalities too strong to let it.
These people became my inspiration. There was no point huffing or dismissing things as uncool. What did that prove? What did it achieve?
That’s why I was determined to have a character in my novel who reaches a positive conclusion – who leaves the novel feeling more excited about life than when they came in.
I always found a strength in Bukowski, in Hamsun and Celine. A sort of resilience and black humour that helped me through things. But it didn’t help me do things. It didn’t make me excited about life. It made me resigned to it.
I always assumed I’d try to write a novel basically ripping off those writers who meant the world to me then (and still do). But I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t write a novel wallowing in my own existential angst (not that that’s what those three writers did, but is certainly what I would have done if I’d attempted to copy them). I couldn’t do that when the person I loved had to put more effort into standing up than I’d ever had to put into anything. It would be self-indulgent, dishonest and frankly pathetic.
I’m very aware of how uncool eighteen year old me would find certain passages in Waves. And certainly, I would expect the enthusiasm for life Alex finds to not resonate with everyone (it was important to me that other characters, very validly, have different perspectives). But still, I can’t pretend anymore. I can’t pretend to be ungrateful and dismissive and as if my struggle is a great struggle that needs to be recorded in writing. It doesn’t.
I’ve met so many people who, despite being hampered by serious, debilitating illnesses, still only want to contribute positively to the world. I wanted to have a character who could learn the same lesson I had learned from these people – to be excited by life, and to take opportunities. And while it may not be very Chinaski. It is very Meg, it is very Pippa, it is very Sophia, it is very Faye.
And those are the people I want to be like.
Because, yes, this is all going to end one day. But that’s not a reason to despair. That’s the reason to be positive as much as you can, to be grateful as much as you can and to be excited as much as you can.
There are sparks of inspiration and joy in the tiniest of moments, and even if nobody else sees them, it’s important that you do.
Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me—
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.
‘Waves’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon:-
Jared A Carnie’s Website – http://www.jaredacarnie.com