I've always thought that one of these future Christmases, I'd like to surprise my friends with a copy of my book as their Christmas gift. Which book this is has of course changed over the course of 5 years. YES! I've been planning to do it for the last 5 years already, but even until now, I haven't finished a single story in the freakin' anthology.
This makes me feel really lousy. Loser kind of lousy, just so to be clear. But then, I read a book today called Jacob's Ladder by Colin McKay and it scared me to death. The book isn't a work of fiction. He wrote it nine weeks before he committed suicide. He just sent it to an editor and then killed himself right after. And throughout his whole prose, he was describing how writing affects him so much. How not being able to publish a single book has made him feel like a complete failure. That's just the start of it. His religion revolves around books and film (if he wasn't dead at 52, I'd fall in love with this guy). He didn't have friends nor family, just his cat, Max.
And he doesn't even come across as pathetic. He is very real. If you are a writer, you would feel what he feels. And if you happen to be just as unpublished as he is, it will make you want to check if you are going through the same downward spiral he got himself into.
He described killing himself with such clarity --- a kind of intelligent clarity only writers are capable of. And some of his thoughts ? They sound sooo familiar.
"Perhaps there is another world—perhaps there are
many worlds—perhaps the Cosmos is a Russian doll—and
in some other world I could find the tree of life or the
waters of oblivion. But not here. Not in this tedious place."
"Here is a paradox: I do not want to die, but I wish to
kill myself. I wish to kill myself because it is an act which
will free me, but I do not wish to be obliterated. No. I wish
to return to the place my memories come from, with each
grain of dust, and each drop of rain, the place beyond time,
the land where no one weeps. Once upon a time all my life
was in front of me. Now all my life is behind me, and I’m
not entirely sure how that happened. Past and future seem
to have got strangely mixed up, but they are full of
excitement, and promise. The present alone is a dull place, a
flatland across which the wind sighs.
Just occasionally I wish I was back in that age of faith,
but it would be as easy to climb to the moon on a beanstalk.
So I will try to remember the time of loving kindness, the
days of gentle sunshine, the nights of moonlight—and then
the blizzard will blow it all away. And then—when life goes
and all is darkness—nothing."
Scary, scary. Scarier than any of the Jason books you might want to read.
Lord, if I don't ever get to write my books, or have it published, help me not to fall the same way as mcKay did. He was such a good writer. He can write! But he killed himself.
No. Don't let me fall the same way.
It just makes me wonder though. I'm thinking if that there was just one person who took the time to really see him --- connect with him. He'd still be alive.
Sad, isn't it?