Sometimes it helps to go retro. You know, be a throwback of sorts. Kind of like when baseball or football teams thrown on jerseys from years’ past, to honor the players and teams that formed the legends from which current players walk these very same paths. Hang on…that past sentence really doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? Anyway…
I was driving home from a meeting with a freelancing agency – I freelance as an IT project manager, and I’m actively looking for a new gig right now, but one preferably that will remove my “freelance” status permanent – when I stopped at a Starbucks for an afternoon jolt of coffee. On the drive, I passed a kindergarten school bus, which reminded me of when I went to kindergarten, which then reminded me of my first day of kindergarten, which is a really funny story, and let me share it with you.
I met this kid named Damon. Squatty, fat Korean kid. Think Eric Cartman, but without the racist bent. We were at recess, in the playground, and he asked me if I wanted to play superheroes with him.
“Sure. Can I be Superman?”
“No,’ he replied. “I’m Superman!”
“Okay, I’ll be Batman.”
“Noooooo! I wanna be Batman! And Superman!”
“Can I be Spider-Man?”
“NO! I WANNA BE SPIDER-MAN!”
I was about to give up and walk away, when Damon pretty much begged me to come back. I agreed, as long as he let me be a villain instead. He agreed, and I was to hide on the playhouse. He counted to ten, and then came running up the slide. When he reached the top of the slide, I greeted him there.
I greeted him with a jab right in his fat gut. I hit him so hard he couldn’t even cry; my punch had sucked the air out of him.
Yeah, I felt bad. Oddly enough, Damon followed me around every day after that, like a prison bitch. Maybe I must have thought kindergarten was like prison; establish yourself as a bad-ass motherfucker no one wants to mess with by beating the shit out of a random inmate. At any rate, I made Damon my bitch.
So what’s the point to this story of schoolyard bullying? One, it was the only time I ever engaged in this kind of behavior – I never bullied another kid again, although I had been bullied for a short time in the 3rd grade by a much bigger kid named Freddie, whose shit I grew tired of, and eventually I beat the ever-living fuck out of him, and we later became good friends – and, two, the incident suddenly triggered a writing frenzy at the Starbucks. I had with me a portfolio with my CV and a notepad, and remembering this entire incident suddenly allowed me to unlock something in my novel that was both getting me stuck and threatening me with boredom. I reframed the protagonist and antagonist’s relationship (a neurotic, depressed superhero versus his ne’er do-well, equally neurotic arch-nemesis) from the perspective of a schoolyard fight. Suddenly, the root of their antagonistic relationship came to light. It wasn’t just that the hero and villain opposed each other simply because that’s what heroes and villains do; they’re opposed to each other because their antagonism began during kindergarten.
In other words, it’s personal. And now, there’s a personal narrative that’s revealed itself to me that’s gotten me all giddy.
All because I went back to writing with pen and paper.
I’d gotten into the habit, ever since NaNoWriMo, of writing strictly on my laptop. However, the bulk of the first draft of my novel was written by hand. Two composition-style notebooks made up the chapters and notes and scribble, all in some of the most criminally illegible handwriting humanly possible. But since the first draft had been completed, and I’d read and edited it, I’d been sitting in front of my laptop, watching the cursor blink, and waiting for the Muse to bless me with words. And yet…nothing. No magic. Just a blinking cursor. Of course, I’d been blogging like mad, so it wasn’t like me sitting in front of the laptop was all for naught.
But there’s something liberating about pen and paper. I love the click-clack of the keyboard, but I love even more the sound of pen meeting paper, especially when I’m writing furiously, ignoring the hand-cramping and the ink staining the side of my hand; I write left-handed, so anyone who writes left-handed knows getting their writing hand stained with ink is inevitable, and it sucks. You press on, though. I’m pressing on with pen and paper because it’s working again for me, so there’s no sense in slowing momentum down for me. I really don’t know where I’m going with this new-found subplot, but I’m excited about it, so I need to follow it down this handwritten rabbit hole.
PS – if Damon is reading this – and I doubt he is – I’d like to still apologize for punching you in the stomach, although you did act like a little bitch. As such, I’ve written you into my novel. When the novel gets published, please contact my publisher regarding any grievances we can possibly settle out of court.