The sad truth


There are few occasions when a rousing game of “If you could be anyone at all, who would you be?” gets “I’d be me” as an outcome.

I play that game a lot, and the answer never ends up being “Oh, I guess I’m pretty happy being me.” Never. I just … don’t like a lot about who I am. I never have and I doubt I ever will, barring major changes from outside. Changes I can recognize.

Oh sure, I can look at myself and see positives, but honestly, whenever I sit and think about who I want to be, the solution is never a simple shift of what I already am to arrive there. It’s a radical departure, in almost every way.

Another name for the Green-Eyed list

I read some online fiction this past weekend. And I read a piece by this guy whom I’ve known from my deviantART page for some time now. He’s recently been made a Gallery Moderator, which basically means he’s supposed to be the hall monitor for the literature gallery. He gives people “Daily Deviation” awards, which publishes their work on the front page of deviantART and gives them a LOT of hits. He also has to settle disputes, spend time in the forums and in chats and basically do a lot of BS work for no pay.

I knew he was talented. I read a couple of his pieces and found myself impressed. Well, this weekend he published a little steampunk piece, and I realized, this guy’s prose is what I want mine to be.

Yet again, I come up short in the “If you could be anyone” game. I can’t even feel satisfied with my best skill, my sharpest talent. Someone is always greater.

Someone’s always better

I could emulate his prose. I could study it and see what makes it so appealing to me. But I’ve never had success with that, and that’s for another post anyway.

The last time I emulated another writer, I was a much younger man trying to be Stephen King. As a writer, I’m told now I can’t emulate anyone. I have to find my own voice. Trouble is, like almost every other aspect of myself, I like other people’s writing voices better than mine.

Like my dad used to always say, “There’s always someone out there badder than you.” True enough I guess.

This is one of the few times I can remember envying someone’s writing voice who wasn’t my favorite author, though. It’s been a long time. Usually I read someone’s work and think, “Not bad, not bad … but King’s better.”

This time, though, I think I’d be really content to be this guy as a writer.

Thinking outside my own shell

Sometimes I wonder if someone out there finds me to be that person. The one they want to be when they grow up. The one they’re striving to emulate. (God, I hope not.) But mostly, I’m too caught up in wondering why I can’t be as good as the people I admire to think about that stuff.

I used to hear the expression “compare and despair”. Now I get it. I still do it – can’t help it, in fact – but I get it. Nothing good can come of this, I suspect.

How about you? Am I alone in this or are you one of those out there playing the “If I could be anyone” game? Who do you wish you could be, or are you content as you are?

-JDT-

All original content copyright 2010 DarcKnyt
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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13 thoughts on “The sad truth

  1. I am not content. I think most people aren’t. I think we all should strive to be better people.

    That’s true for most, Bob. Sadly, the ones content with who they are tend to be utter a$$holes. I don’t know why they don’t see themselves as others do, but it’s been true in general for my 45 years.

  2. If I could be anyone at all, I’d be Bob.

    He’s a good role model for you. A loyal and trustworthy friend.

    • Holy fuck! I can’t be serious for one damn day in my life.
      Reasons why I’m jealous of Bob.
      – Women are willing to touch him.
      – His parents aren’t as insane as mine, and they travel more.
      – We both have pieces of paper that state we completed a post-secondary education, not that either of us have used anything we’ve learned. Just that his is fancier than mine.
      – I’m pretty sure he makes more money than me.
      – He lives across the street from a good pizza place.

      • Wait… “women”. I know that Bobette is willing to touch me, who else is?

        You got me on the parents part. I am not sure about the money part and I do live across from a good pizza place. And yes, my piece of paper might be fancier but that isn’t saying much.

  3. There’s not a single writer I want to be like. I USED to think, any writer but me, but I don’t anymore. Now I covet nice aspects of various other writers. You, for instance, are pretty darn good at unfolding a story. You never rush, and you give me just what I want when I want it. I wish I could do that. I know I do certain aspects better than others, and most writers are that way.

    Hm. That’s cool; no single writer can encompass all you want to be? Very nice!

    You’re doing fine. Release the external.

    Thanks, sweetie. I needed to hear that.

  4. There’s a flip side of that coin, Darc. What sells is something almost like that which already sells.

    DWIGHT! Long time no see, brother! How you doing?

    Ergo imitation is the road to success, whether we like it or not.

    I don’t mind imitating someone, but all the agent and editors whose blogs I (try to) follow say NOT to do this. Confusion reigns.

    We tend to harbor a lot of respect for those who do their own thing outside the lines and keep doing it until the “lines of conformity” move toward them.

    Like Stephen King. He just wrote like himself and now he’s a gold standard.

    Comedians like Dennis Miller and Bill Hicks were told they’d never make it unless they mainstreamed their act.

    David Byrne struggled for a long time before he broke.

    I remember that guy.

    How many writers actually break out in a work of original voice? Some, but not many. Bret Easton Ellis is the only one who comes to mind. Even Palahniuk and Bukowski made their bones in mainstream journalism/writing before they found their original voices.

    I once had a male English teacher who swore that he wouldn’t allow his wife to coo and talk baby talk to their new infant. He said this just stunted the development of the child with childish nonsense, and when his son was old enough to talk on his own, the teacher would patiently wait to hear what the kid had to say.

    I adopted this too, but at later stages. Not in infancy.

    Goofy, and not bad schtick, but of course this is bunk. We learn the mechanics of speech from imitating nonsensical goos and gahs.

    I think he took it too far; I wouldn’t talk baby-talk to them as they grew, but did make sounds to encourage them when they did. Interesting analogy with writing. I wonder if I’m stunting? And now, I wonder if I know HOW to imitate anymore?

    We learn to sing by mimicking the stylings of other vocalists.

    This is so true.

    We all ape another writing voice on the way to finding our own. There is no shame in this. It’s part of the journey.

    Great stuff, Dwight. Thanks for coming by to say hey and shoot it with me, bud. Now … whatcha got on HOW to imitate your favorite writer? I may have to re-learn that one.

  5. I don’t ever want to be someone else, I just want certain aspects of my life to be better.

    That’s cool! I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that way. Must be nice. 🙂

    • This attitude is from years of my mother, my husband (now ex) and boyfriends saying, “I wish you could be more like…” or “Why can’t you act like…” Eff you. I am who I am and I’m going to like it. It’s bad enoughtjat other people wish I was someone better, I’m certainly not going to do it to myself.

      There you go. It’s amazing the effect people can have on us, isn’t it? Have a great long weekend!

  6. Whenever this discussion comes up, I think of : this song (I don’t know how to input a proper link in my reply, so you’ll need to copy/paste)

    Done. 🙂

    I think I agree with yellowcat on this topic.

    The aspects I want to be different:
    Financially, I want to be stable
    Health, I want to be fit and healthier
    Settled, I want to finally wake up and not wonder if this will be the week we get the call to pack up and move again

    And these are all things, that are coming with time. Financially, we almost have all of our debt paid off, health-wise, I’m making the changes to have a healthier lifestyle (not just for me, but for my family down the road), and being settled, we know in a couple years, we will be living in the community we want to be, to stay. Other than that, I just want to live honestly, love deeply, be happy, and some day have a family (maybe sooner rather than later even).

    Good for you! Like I said to YellowCat, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that way. I’ve wanted to be someone else so many years I don’t know if I’ll ever find out what it is to be comfortable in my own skin. It’s nice to know others like who they are.

    • So… not sure why my post is all in italics… or where part of my post even went, because it’s not all there.

      Not sure what to tell you hon, but I fixed the italics and link if that helps. Feel free to say it all again. 🙂

  7. I’m not happy with aspects of myself, that’s for certain. But I wouldn’t want to be anyone else either. First and foremost, no one else has my son. Whoever it is we might wish to be, they have their flaws, their unfixable things. They wish they were someone else for reasons we may never imagine.

    Hm. Hadn’t really considered that. I guess in my head I become the person I imagine they must be. Interesting existential idea.

    I can spend a tremendous amount of time wishing for near impossible things–like publication. But I don’t spend much time on absolute impossible things–like being someone else or having pretty bone structure & better skin.

    To each their own, I guess.

    And I want my son to grow up reasonably happy with himself. He won’t do that if he doesn’t see that in mom and dad. Maybe he won’t do that anyway, but I’ve got to help him out as much as I can.

    Then my kids are boned I guess. I can’t pretend to be happy about who I am; and they KNOW I don’t like who I am. But they DO know I like who THEY are and THEY seem happy with those people too.

    So I work at improving what I can and coming to terms with the rest of it.

    What else is there?

    In the meantime I’ll go look for that magic wand that fixes everything…

    Let me know when you find it. 🙂

  8. I’m content to be who I am, finally. It took a long time to get here. And I have a lot of natural advantages. It’s totally not fair that I was born smart and skinny. I feel like one of those people who won the multi-million dollar jackpot in the life lottery. Just lucky, I guess.

    Skinny and smart is a pretty awesome combination. Toss in beautiful and tall and HEY, you’ve got it all. But skinny and smart? I’d take those two in a heartbeat. Congrats on winning that lottery. 🙂

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