Beginning. Middle. End.
Calm. Storm. Flood.
We have now arrived at the end. We’ve been through a transition. We’ve watched the unnerving tranquillity of the calm descend into the torment of the storm, and now the levy is set to break and the flood us upon us. We have reached the point of catastrophe – the end.
Every great piece of writing has a brilliant ending. It’s simply a must in this world of literature that we live in. If you are to create something wonderful then you need to bring your story to a point of dramatic closure that leaves the reader both exhilaratingly satisfied and yearning for more. And that is no easy feat. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly difficult in this day and age to craft an ending to a story that feels authentic, original, and brilliant. We live in a society where studios, agents and publishers are more readily willing to accept something that feels tried and true, knowing it will sell than to take a gamble on a piece of writing with the potential to be a masterpiece, solely because it is unique and therefore ultimately dangerous.
But let’s not digress. My issues with the state of modern writing and publishing are well noted throughout this blog. Today we are focusing on the flood.
Everyone always sees the flood as a negative. When someone talks of a flood we imagine violent and raging torrents of water in biblical proportions. We think of an arc and a guy tasked with weathering hell on earth in order to rebuild life anew out of the devastation that is left behind. And while yes, the flood is often catastrophic it is also an opportunity to wash clean the slate of our own fears or failings and start anew.
Sadly though, the flood that I am set to wade through has no positive connotations. I’m a man laden with extreme narcissism at my best and vehement self-loathing at my worst. I hate so much about my life and fight with myself every fucking day just to keep my head above water. The floodwaters are up to my throat and the ice cold tendrils of failure are lapping at my lips. I often quote Alan Moore’s immerse yourself in the least desirable element and swim philosophy, but I’m not swimming. I’m sinking like a god-damn stone.
So let’s get this shit over with. Let’s flay open my chest and expose the twisted workings of my soul. Let’s stop fighting the floodwaters and allow the destruction to take place. Let’s be honest. Let’s be humble. And let’s fuck up every preconception you’ve ever had of me. Let’s witness the flood.
There’s a cacophony of voices tearing through my head. Jesus, I just want them to stop. I don’t want to be angry. I don’t want to hate. But all this positive shit runs incongruously to the poison in my veins. Why does the god damn wolf in me want to hunt? Why do I need to feed on the flesh of those around me? Why can’t I be placated by the success of others? Why do I feel the need to despise them for their achievements? Surely I can’t forever blame my own shortcomings on the universe at large.
I piss away my time punching in and out of a fucking nine-till-five day job that leaves me feeling like a failure. I’m not a man for what I do. I’m a mouse running on a treadmill for someone else’s amusement; and I go home every fucking day unfulfilled and aware that I’ve contributed nothing to society. People ask me what I do for a career. I don’t have a fucking career. I have a dream of being published and the nightmare of my reality. I’m creatively stifled because I can’t devote myself entirely to anything other than this shit.
I hate that I’m alone, but know deep down that this where my future lies. I’m too much of a mess to ever be loved, or to even let someone get close enough to love me. My future is clear; I was born with nothing and I’ll die alone. But I’ll learn to accept that in time. I’ll learn that sometimes the best thing a damaged soul can do is live a life without another. Why drag someone else into my perpetual downward spirals? It would seem cruel to ever expose anyone to the toxicity of my heart and soul. So I keep quiet and hold people at arm’s length. I wear my masks of the man they believe me to be, and I dance for the amusement of strangers. The worst part? I laugh at their ignorance. No one knows a fucking thing about who I am.
My writing is stuck in limbo. I’m waiting on the validation of strangers. I’m sitting on my hands while someone judges me and decides whether I am worthy of their time. Part of me is thrilled at the opportunity, but the bastard in my wants to grab them by the fucking throat and force them to make a decision. Put a gun to their head and force them to decide. Put it in print or don’t. Just quit with this jumping through hoops bullshit. I’m better than that. Fuck them. Fuck any other author. I’ll destroy the whole lot of them. I’ve crippled people before. I’m not afraid to do it again.
I want to run. Jesus Christ I want to run. Leave behind all of my fuck ups and my flaws and start over again. No debts. No failed relationships. No moronic life decisions. I’d be someone else; somebody humble and righteous. I’d leave all these fucking thoughts behind. My flood would be different. There’d be no waters fuelled by hate rag dolling my battered body. There’d be positivity washing over by skin, carrying me to places unknown. My friends would be there. My real friends. They’d actually know me. I’d be able to let them in. I wouldn’t be so fucked up and scorned by the ghosts of relationships passed.
Run… Jesus fucking Christ I want to run. But the fear of actually being happy or successful has my feet glued to the floor and my fingers reaching for a bottle.
My flood is a mess. I’m surrounded by black water and flotsam capable of breaking bones and minds alike. It will continue to gain strength. Levies will break and my mind will be destroyed. I’ll die alone. Unless I can overhaul who I am and cut the devil from my soul then I’ll never allow anyone in. I’ll live a life as a frustrated author, and I will continue to battle against the raging torrents until I can push my way upstream and achieve my dreams of being published. And will continue to fight through my calms, my storms, and my floods and their sempiternal nature for as long as I shall live. I will fight until I can create an ending worthy of literary royalty.
Catastrophe was the name Aristotle gave to his final act. It seems only fitting then that the life of someone desperate to replicate his successes be bound to experience exactly that. There is no heaven without hell. There is no success without failure. And there is no fortune without catastrophe.
Beginning. Middle. End.
Calm. Storm. Flood.
Spark. Blaze. Inferno.
Protasis. Epitasis. Catastrophe.
Call them whatever you want. Every incredible story has three very distinct components. Our job as authors and storytellers is to make them beautiful and unique. To breathe life to our characters and their journeys in such a way that the reader becomes invested in their transitions through these acts.