I have a tendency to cripple myself by taking on too much.
When I was young, I saw my genius spreading out like a spark in a void that fuels a new big bang, to eventually encompass all that is.
Grandiose, sure, but that wasn’t hyperbole. I assumed that it was possible to actually convert the entirety of the infiniverse (shorthand for every dimension, every possibility everywhere, thanks, Remender) to a true path of enlightened bliss. Worse, my path of enlightened bliss.
From a fucking teenager.
Hell, those delusions lasted into my twenties. I can’t imagine why I grew to be so misguided and screwed up. The egotism, the narcissism, that such a stance took, piled on to the knowledge that I did not possess the skill, time or power to pull it off, and you’ve got delusions of grandeur mixed with a sense of self-esteem that is not only drastically inflated, but also almost non-existent.
I oscillated between arrogance and ineffectual fatalism in a breath. One moment, I’m talking myself up and plotting out the enlightenment of an entire planet (as a starting point, obviously) and then next, I’m so deep in depression and the knowledge of what a useless piece of shit I was that I could barely speak. One minute a conquering hero, by my own words. In action, a snivelling coward.
I’m getting better, I promise.
Still, grand quests ultimately ensured I’d never achieve anything. The futility of attempting to do something you’d have to be literally omni-powerful, omni-present and omnipotent to do (and then excoriating yourself when you fail) is nothing less than fanatically crippling.
I used to want to write 300 books. And not quicky one-offs like a 40s pulp writer. Series that spanned 5000 pages, epics that made War And Peace look like a Gordon Korman novel.
Yeah, I have issues.
I’ve pared it down to merely 30 books now, some epics, some basic, but still, it’s a lot of work. It spans genres, styles, all designed to keep me from getting comfortable and becoming complacent. Part of me wants to write a long series like Harry Potter or A Song Of Ice And Fire, but I hate the idea of being pigeonholed. For every transcending series like that, there’s a thousand famous authors working in sci-fi or fantasy doing series that sell only decently.
I’d rather do one book in a genre brilliantly than to keep extending that graph of absurdism to its impossible end, forever chasing the end of the asymptote, for diminishing returns.
Then again, you can do a series brilliantly, as in my previous examples. I have one particular idea I’ve only begun to flesh out that practically requires it be a series, and a long one at that. It’s too big for one novel.
Chances are, I’ll never make it. Prone as I am to collapses and deep depressions that result in a lot of lost work and time, I have to assume the possibility of relapse.
However, for now, something feels different. I feel expansive, more than I’ve felt in years, like something is finally clicking for me mentally, if not in reality.
I’m making progress.
I chucked my ego (or at least tempered it by constantly invoking perspective), and gone back to basics. I’ll never conquer infinity, but maybe I can find some peace and happiness in little bits of the finite.
Progress. One step forward at a time, and they’re all steps forward if you eventually learn from it and evolve.
It’s staying in one place that’s worse. I don’t know what pain or pleasure is in my future, but I keep forward. I keep progressing.
And that’s the best I can do for now.