I am 21-years-old. If I live to be 80 years old, that means my life is more than a quarter way over. My entire life I have been wanting to pursue my vocation, or what I believed to be so. Being a writer. I just do not believe that there is a point. An industry that was built on the talent of the genius’ before us, currently disregards it in favour of the novelization of writing that will only be viewed as cancer for generations to come. If literature is an art, why do we treat it with such disregard?
The New York Times Bestseller list is littered with inane autobiographical self-help books by actors and comedians who are clinging to the last bit of relevance they can muster as they spew pointless social criticism coupled with their insightful advice from their social pedestals surrounded by their accumulated fortunes yesterday conceived, and poorly written fan fiction, that ostensibly is even plagiarized. At least E.L James has the audacity to describe in her own words, albeit poorly, as Ana’s cunt is ravaged by the ever so mysterious Christian Grey. Cassandra Clare on the other hand is pretty darn good at copying JK. Rowling. Hunter S. Thompson used to write out The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald to perfect his writing style, I just don’t think he ever had the audacity to send it to a publisher and collect a paycheck.
This far into this waste of time, you might realize that I’m just another idiot critic using the internet as a soapbox to spew my misery in every direction. I’ve drank all the beer that I had left, and have a decent buzz right now, so I suppose that’s fair. Please bear with me however, because it’s also fair to say that you’re reading the truth. The world of literature has become a joke. Writers have their eyes on possible movie deals, not their prose.
With that being said, being someone who was forced out of high school three years ago, with no post-secondary education, whom also made less than $10,000 last year, I would gladly sell my book to a studio so that they could void it of all meaning and collect ticket sales as fans of the novel pay to go see it only to complain to their friends that the book was better. I would just have the decency to make sure the book was actually worthwhile. I just want to pay my bills through the path of least resistance. I’m not a monster.
But Colby, you’re thinking, Why are you writing this? Well, as of today, the only thing that I will have ever had published was my grandmother’s obituary that I wrote yesterday night. It will appear in the local newspaper a few days from now, and will eventually line the gutters and local bird cages of my hometown.
She passed away yesterday following a stroke and a 15 year battle with cancer. The events of yesterday gave me some perspective on my craft, and was a tumultuous reminder of how little time we all truly have.
I awoke to the sound of mother screaming that something was wrong with Grandma. She had fallen out of bed, and she was slurring her speech, unable to piece together complete sentences. My Grandmother was a stage four cancer survivor, whom just had a stroke.
I jumped out of bed. I put on some khakis and an old polo shirt. I ran to my brother’s room and woke him up. I asked if I could borrow his truck. Something is wrong with Grandma. She’s not doing very well. We need to go now. He opened the door and gave me his keys. I think I was yelling, but in retrospect everything is always monotone and heartless.
I ran downstairs. I escaped outside. I climbed into my brother’s truck. My mother struggled into the passenger seat. I started the vehicle and put it in reverse. I sped out of my driveway. Before I realized it, we were speeding along the highway at 150 kilometers an hour. Everything was moving so quickly. I felt as if I was watching these events after they had already happened. I knew that there wasn’t a point. There was only one outcome in a situation like this.
When we arrived at my Grandmother’s home, the ambulance had just arrived. I began to feel a strange nostalgia. I had felt this feeling 3 years ago on Christmas Day, when my Uncle had passed away from an aneurysm in his lungs. It was then that I first understood what true heartbreak was, as I watched my Grandmother cry and hug her only son as they informed her that he was dead.
Paramedics unloaded a stretcher from the back of the ambulance and carried it upstairs to the second floor. My mother followed them. I didn’t have a chance to get inside the building before the security doors locked. A second responder arrived on scene. No sirens. Only lights. This is the universal sign to bring out your dead.
I put the four way signals on, and got out of the truck and began to run around to the back of the building. A lady that would later quote scripture to me in the hallway upstairs asked me what was happening. I told her it was my Grandmother. She wasn’t doing very well.
I arrived upstairs to be greeted by the sad chaos that had struck the second floor of this low income apartment building. My mother was hysterical. Spinning out of control at the thought of losing her mother’s guiding love. She was lost. She didn’t know what her sister’s phone number was. She needed to contact her. It was an emergency.
The autistic lady that had asked me what was wrong outside, told me that I should have told her it was Marina. She would buy her the paper that would host my literary debut a few days from now from time to time. She then told me about the kingdom of heaven, and how that if anything happens, my grandmother would inhabit it, and I would one day be able to see her again. I wouldn’t see my Grandmother again. I was a Catholic school dropout whose name was featured on two class t-shirts due to my insubordination. Christ’s heaven did not have a place for me. I respect the scripture enough to understand this.
Clear the hallway. She was lying on the stretcher that burst through the frame and into the hall. Her mouth was ajar. This was not the woman that we had all known and love. Her essence was dissipating, she was breathing her final breaths.
We followed her as her bated breaths wrote the last chapter to a journey that had been 76 years in the making. They put her into the ambulance. My mother tried to get into the ambulance. They announced that she was passing. My mother was not allowed to be a passenger on this journey. She cursed them. I could not even begin to do justice to the stream of colour that was pouring out of her mouth. She spewed venom in her words.
Let’s go. We’ll meet them at the hospital. My sister appeared from behind the ambulance. She had come from work after my mother had called her. We regrouped in my brother’s truck. We headed for the hospital.
When the vehicle stopped, my mother promptly exited and ran to the closest entrance. My sister and I parked at my brother’s house a couple blocks away. We made our way to the emergency as fast as we could. They escorted my sister and I through a number of security doors and placed us into a small room that was adorned with photos of sunsets. This was the waiting room they placed you in when your loved ones were terminal. If I hadn’t known the situation beforehand, the subtle choice of artwork alerted me to this reality.
The paramedic that wouldn’t allow my mother in the ambulance was already in the room. She was crying. My mother apologized to her and insisted upon the importance of first responders. I was sure that they had seen this before, but the tears that streamed from her eyes made me think otherwise. She had denied a child the right of passage that a child should be permitted to. Escorting their parents through their final moments before they solved life’s greatest mystery.
A doctor entered the room. Marina had a pulse. He wanted to make sure that we understood that in this situation, the odds were stacked against her. He wanted to be clear. I exited the room to call my brother. I told him what was happening. If you want to see Grandma one last time, you should come here now. If not I will call you in a half hour and update you on the situation. We ended our call.
I reentered the room to tears. She passed while you were in the hallway. It’s over. If you would all like to go see her, you may go see her now. We’re so sorry.
My sister stayed in the room of sunsets. I followed the rest of the party as we were escorted back through the security doors to the emergency room. The purple curtain had already been drawn. I could feel the eyes of the emergency room staff as their remorseful stares followed me as I walked around the curtain. Her mouth was agape. Marina had once told me that she prayed to someone. She didn’t know who, but she prayed to someone. This wasn’t the look of answered prayers. I was heartbroken.
We gathered around her. Her eyes fixated. She was such a strong woman. She lived through so much, yet this was the end result. It’s all irrelevant. Our lives will end.
I remembered that only one day before I had hugged her as she left from my sister’s home. She gave me a kiss on the cheek. Be good, Colby she said. I will never know what her last words were, but these were her last words to me. It is vague advice, sure. But after everything that has happened I understand exactly what she meant. She wanted me to be true to myself. She wanted me to succeed in everything that I’ve ever wanted. She wanted me to make the most out of whatever time I have left.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time pursuing music in my life (which was my first love, and is something that I will continue to do, but that is another demon, and perhaps a story for a different day), and have devoted none of it to writing, something that I’ve known I’ve wanted to pursue from the moment that my mother first read me to sleep.
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that if I were to submit anything to a literary agent or a publishing company, they would ignore it in favour of shit. The reason why the only thing I will ever have had published is an obituary is because the industry has become diluted. Authors are cutting corners and their bodies of work aren’t an indication of their literary skill or value, but by audiences’ insatiable lust for the front page fuck that has landed the lead role in the upcoming movie adaptation.
I’m not saying that there are no good authors that are currently producing work. I’m only saying that they are not acknowledged by the literary community in the way that they should be. We’re only ever acknowledging terrible garbage, or those who are long dead. I get it. Kerouac did a bunch of drugs, and he wrote down whatever nonsense he could remember. He’s a genius.
My point is that, if I want to be true to what my Grandmother told me in respect to being a successful writer, I have to sacrifice whatever artistic merits I am striving for in order to be considered what I want to be considered at the level that I wish to obtain. If I want to be a household name in the world of literature, I have to ensure that everything except my work speaks for my name. No one cares if I’m killing myself trying to enter the literary ring, they only care if Edward stays with Bella after he cums on her face. I’m here to box, but my competition didn’t show up for the fight. No one even showed up to watch.
Gertrude Stein was wrong. Hemingway and his band of misfits were not the Lost Generation. The voiceless words that will never escape the pages of today’s literary hopefuls are. If you’re not writing a terrible young adult series with the potential at a movie franchise, just fuck off.
I’ve often thought that there wasn’t a point to trying to construe a literary persona. I suppose that I still have time, but who can say for sure. Perhaps I will just accumulate all of my work, and instead of blowing out 21 candles on Saturday, I will blow a hole in my head. Then as my mind is imbued on the walls that surround me and the publishing companies throw stacks of money at my estate to buy the publishing rights to my work, you can wish me a Happy Birthday and tell all of your friends with such heartbreak and sadness, how much you loved me as you colour me a genius, without ever knowing who I truly was. I would like that.