The following is a guest post from Ryan Drawdy, whose story “12 Crocodiles” appeared in issue 11 of Typehouse.
I wrote the following line today, and I didn’t hate myself for it:
“In today’s world, consumer-facing brands have to do something to differentiate themselves from the competition.”
I’ve come a long way. At 13, I was as romantic as I could conceive of being. I used the word “quandary” in every other poem and always tacked on “the vast vacuum of” before writing “space.” It was infinitely exasperating that the “real world” could be devoid of unicorns and somehow, people were not rioting about it. Strangest of all, I never once considered the most fiscally responsible manner in which to file one’s taxes.
I am not the same as I once was. Now, I am responsible for a family, for a child, for my own basic needs. Life may be romantic, but it often hides that part of itself in shame, as if it were in fear of being criminally liable for lacking a “realistic perspective.”
Still, this is all part of growing up, which even the artist cannot avoid altogether. He may suspend his gaze on the stars out the window while cooking his meal, but soon enough he will have to look down to ensure it is safe to eat.
If I told you I wouldn’t change a thing, though, I’d be airing a lie. If I could, I would wreck the vessel of modern life, shifting its insane priorities so you and I could spend the majority of our lives working on what we love instead of what we must.
However, I do not wish for no responsibilities—neither as a man nor an artist. I’ve felt the pleasing thrill of disciplining my hands to work when they wish to slump; I’ve known the pride of a story finished through grit and force of habit alone. More than this, I’ve learned that if I want to invite others into the world of my imagination, Romanticism is insufficient. If I don’t write smartly as well as passionately, no one will catch the vision.
Do you know what I didn’t have as a fervent 15-year-old (besides a driver’s license)? Any structure to my writing whatsoever. In dozens of poems and stories about the “profundity of celestial love,” I never did discover how to withhold enough detail to generate suspense, or how to place a goal in the heart of my protagonist and drag her through hell to obtain it—all for the delight of the reader.
At 27, I write about consumer-facing brands by day, so my wife can throw out expired milk without batting an eye. By night, I’m still peeking around in the craters of the moon, wondering how they manage to contain entire oceans.
A celestial quandary, indeed.