The Epic of a Child’s Mess. Part I

Foreword

The fiction writer that doesn’t know what to do with their childhood is such a bore.

Some writers like to go spelunking into their anachronistic psyche and get lost. Except it’s no fun for everyone else, unless the writer has that much of an emotionally feverish personality to make the lonely middle-aged women want to swoon and fall down the cave with them. O, take me Gatsby!

On the other side of the mirror, there is the writer that forgets childhood ever happened. And in his world, the only interesting things are flying metal machines and highly intelligent alien women who don’t wear corsets. They make fantasy with the beginning assumption that what they write is not real – and that it is still entirely desirable. Who says you can’t manufacture frustration?

In their fantasies, children begin with the assumption that what they are making is entirely real. And since their fantasies are part of reality – and fantasy is desirable – both fantasy and reality become more desirable. And so, they make reality more real by fantasy.

Only children and old people know how to tell a story that is equally fantastic and real. And isn’t that what makes their storytelling so charming?

An adult writer that disregards his childhood – that is bored by his childhood – will be entirely charmless.

For example, sex may be part of a child’s story, but it is always a vague far-off notion. No matter how much of a crucial role it plays in their story, it is left undescribed. And that is okay. In my stories, it was occasionally a plotpoint. And the stork was occasionally a character.

The charmless writer doesn’t get this. “An adult must describe it all! Grit! Realness! Like you’re really there!”

Prologue

Around 1:00am one night, I heard a question whispered behind me, “What are you going to remember about your childhood?”

And for a moment, I couldn’t remember anything at all. I didn’t know what I would remember. And I wasn’t sure how I should package memories. Should I remember details, people, places, incidents? Should my memories be like a newsreel or a novel? Or a collection of short stories? Maybe it would be a manifesto, or a Freudian psychoanalysis of my sinful mind.

I finally decided that I would remember it as the perspective; the perspective of a child and what ideas are meaningful to him. What does a child take seriously?

I don’t know about your child, but mine took his different ideas very seriously. His ideas were always ones for stories in the form of visions.

At times, I thought my stories would change the world. At other times, I wanted to quit and grow up. I didn’t quit, but I did grow up.

For a time, I forgot myself and lost control. As soon as I decided to grow up, the temple to my childhood crumbled. Suddenly, the feelings and memories associated with Christmas and “jammy rides” shattered. My temple was looted, the gold taken off the walls, and the tables turned over. I felt broken inside, because Christmas just “didn’t feel like Christmas anymore”.

I lost it. And there is no one that can defend our innocence for long.

My younger self concluded that the Golden Age of life is all the time before you turn six. After six, life begins to suck and the fun is over.

I partly blamed my older brother Josiah for bringing the Golden Age to an end. I liked to pretend that he bullied me out of my glory like the barbarians bullied Rome. Or exiled me like Ovid. I wonder what is a more romantic fate?

In truth, not only were the Romans to blame for their own fall, they were supposed to fall. There was no scenario where they would not fall. No matter how much your sibylings love you and your parents love you and you grow up in the family, you will lose your innocence. This is the way things are.

Perhaps, this is the root of the fiction writer who doesn’t know what to do with their childhood. And at this moment, I feel less anger and more pity. I despise so much of the fantasies-turned-book out there, but I have trouble despising the minds behind them. A broken mind thinks broken thoughts.

A great tragedy is when someone loses their innocence unnaturally or abruptly.

And even though no one can defend innocence for long, it is the duty of the old to secure it until the time comes.

And if God has some desire to allow or command that they lose their innocence early, so let it be. But you better pray you are not the one responsible. A millstone fits as comfortably around the neck as a ruff.

I will remember my childhood as ideas, because as it stands, my childhood is a distant shadow. To help me remember what I ought to cherish, I will recount the embodiment of those ideas. And maybe I will have a limping zombie by the time the duct tape is gone.

This is a brief recollection of all the stories that my child created. The epic begins with the parents of them all, the famed Jodon and Jodonna. From these very natural parents sprang many children. And these children populated a thousand worlds. From them, a series of metamorphoses occurred that ended in the death of them all. The gods are dead and the temples have fallen.

And in their place, a greater temple is established.

Part II

4 thoughts on “The Epic of a Child’s Mess. Part I

  1. Krepes says:

    Interesting idea Caleb, but I have to admit, I’m a bit confused. What exactly do you consider to be the central problem and troublesome symptoms of writing that has forsaken childhood? Like, you call out those artists who have abandoned their childhood, but I’m just curious how you believe their work manifests that root problem. Make any sense?

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    1. iholdtheline says:

      The central problem of forsaking childhood, is that you forsake the realism of fiction. If you forget what it was like to be a child, or in some sense dislike childhood, you will likely write about unquenchable fantasies. Thus, the alien women.

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  2. emptyjones says:

    Correction: highly intelligent alien women who DO wear corsets! Don’t rain on my parade, Warner!

    You are so weird, man, it’s great. I don’t even know what to DO with these rad specific ideas you are laying down. In abstraction, though, this is something I have thought of before, in depth. The whole childhood thing. For me… my childhood was one in which very little happened at all. Fantasy–my own and those of others, in the form of books and video games–became a way of extending my reality. That is near the core of what makes me want to shape art.

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