It’s a theme.
Somewhere in my programming is this line of code that activates when I have an idea. The idea generates and little mind minions pop it in my brain’s suggestions box. Then at some point in the non-specified future, I’ll receive a reply, that sounds something like this:
‘Ken, Idea #45Gj0AA is a go, repeat, is a GO.’
That’s me made up.
Off on an approved path, with all the requisite validation and official stamps I need to get me through the necessary security checkpoints, past the permission police.
So, what’s wrong with this picture?
There are flaws. I’ve got two issues here:
- I’m not a natural asker; and
- The world isn’t often a Yes, and… place
It a self-worth thing. I’m forever waiting to be told I’m a good boy, to be told my idea is a good one and applauded before I’ve even done anything about it.
There’s a cycle that goes like this:
An idea is had -> Excitement is felt -> Some brainstorming is done -> Notes are taken ->
A connection to the great EVERYTHING in the universe is momentarily experienced ->
An ambitious next-step is devised -> Then the notion that I should seek permission arises -> Momentum slowly drains from the venture like a body dehydrating during a long bushwalk on an extremely hot and humid day.
And I’m back at the beginning again.
Here’s an example:
Towards the end of 1996 I wrote my first short story, To The End. Soon after, in early 1997 I wrote another, Sunday, Sunday. Later that year I began a novel, (!) Bang which would take me about a year to write. By the end of 1998 I had started in earnest on For Tomorrow, as well as having sketched out ideas for another novel, Chemical World.
Have you picked up the link between all the story titles yet?
Yes? No? No matter.
They are all Blur song titles. That was my thing you see. I’d decided all my fiction would be named after different Blur song titles. Maybe at some point I would incorporate a Radiohead song or two because they’re influence was growing on me. But Blur, mostly Blur was where my head was at.
I can see now it was about who I was trying to align myself with to give my work, and myself, a clear and definable identity.
Listen to Blur’s songs.
Read my stories.
See? See? You get it right?
So as a permission seeker, what did I do around the middle of 1997?
I found Blur’s official website, went to the contact page and completed the ‘Contact Us’ form.
Dear Blur (these are not the exact words – they are in fact a rather sharp and self-critical retrospective rehash)
I am a writer. I am the same as you. I use your song titles as the names of all my stories. I would be more than happy to send you a sample of these if you like. How about To The End or Sunday, Sunday?
Are you okay with this? For me to use your song titles to name my stories, not to send you in a copy of one of them, or both – I could do that. I’m not worried about the cost of postage – I have part-time job you see.
I plan to have a long and successful career as a novelist who writes sharply about the heart of humanity whilst existing on the fringes of it, and it’s important at the outset that I get your approval so that down the road when I am as well read as you are listened to there is no conflict between us. You mean too much to me for there to be anything but mutual respect, understanding and acceptance between us.
Please let me know at your earliest convenience. I will wait for your response before proceeding too far down this path.
I look forward to a long and meaningful connection with you and your body of work. Who knows, in time maybe we will collaborate and one of your songs may come from one of my stories and the symbiosis between us strengthening until it’s considered I’m like the faceless fifth member of the band. Did I mention you’ve inspired me to learn guitar because you published the chords to each song in your CD liner notes?
Thank you Blur. I love you Blur.
Wake the fuck up dude.
It only takes six consecutive deep breaths to change your state – I do this quite a lot.
The good news is I don’t hate, and am no longer bitterly angry at, my much younger self. It wasn’t his fault. He was just naïve and didn’t have the savviness to know he needn’t give a fuck and simply plough ahead regardless.
The difference between then and now is I tell myself just to proceed anyway. No-one is waiting for whatever it is I write other than one person – me. So just get on with it, whatever it is.
If I ever produce anything that might actually make it into the world, let those issues be dealt with then. Don’t let them hold me up at the beginning because they are just EXCUSES. My Worry Bug is looking for reasons not to try and, therefore, to prevent me from the embarrassment and shame of failure.
Fuck succeeding, just don’t expose yourself. Great life lesson.
If I’d told that girl who approached me in the basketball stadium back in 1991, ‘No, I don’t want to meet your friend,’ the whole Hi, my name’s Ken… incident would never have happened. (that’s to come – don’t worry)
But that’s not how I want to live. I’ve always wanted unexpected things to pop up that lead to great adventures.
Saying yes is, sure, daunting, nut it’s much more fun. And fun should be had, as often as possible.
Now I know permission begins with me. So, I tell myself to just get on with it and be what may if anything happens down the line. I’m not letting the fear of anticipation rule me anymore.