Wanted

Warning: Posted without proofreading.  I'll get to it tomorrow.  Leave me alone.  I've been drinking.

Stop the spiral!  Turns out my YA book made the next round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest, after all.  So I didn't go down in flames, although it did make me realize how much I have invested in this contest, and how that's probably not a good thing.  After all, getting to the next round made me happy, but then I realized that the closer I am to the end when I get cut, the worse it's going to hurt.  And so the cycle repeats.

Anyway, the other day on the way to work I was listening to the latest CSS album (which I've had for months but am just now getting around to listening to).  There's a song called "City Grrl" which is ostensibly the lead singer's story of growing up and wanting to move to the big city.  She rattles off all the things she wanted her life to be like when she finally got to the big city, from partying to making her dreams come true -- the usual, really.

Listening to someone sing about what they wanted as a child made me think about the fact that I've managed to go most of my life without really wanting anything, at least not in a large sense.  Part of this stemmed from the fact that I was, more or less, a pretty joyless young man, so it's hard to really want anything when you don't find much joy in anything.  Part of it was the fact that not wanting things had worked out well for me, or so I thought.  I basically just went where the wind took me.

When Nicole and I moved up to the Bay area, one of the things we talked about was how nice this neighborhood is and what a good school district this house is in.  We don't have kids.  Yes, we want to have them some day, but as I was fond of saying at the time, I felt like I was being forced to make decisions based upon things that hadn't happened yet.  Most people call that "making plans."  That's just not something I really did.

Honestly, I spent a long time not even wanting to be a writer, at least not entirely.  I spent my childhood writing, I spent my teen years writing, and when it came time to go to college, I chose an English major because writing was ridiculous.  I'm from the Midwest; we have to be practical.

I wrote throughout college, but even going to graduate school for Creative Writing was something of a desperate move to prevent the collegiate clock from striking zero.

Don't get me wrong, I had to write.  I've always had to write.  And I always had those pipe dreams of becoming the next great American author.  But that was a different reality.  Writing was something that Kyle Garret did, not what Kyle Vanderneut did (my real name, by the by).  Kyle Vanderneut had to be responsible and he had to maintain a life where he could roll with the punches and take whatever came along.

Even with a Master's degree in Creative Writing, the idea of being a writer seemed alien to me.  I think it was probably because, deep down, it was something that I really wanted, and I wasn't entirely sure how to handle such a thing.

It wasn't manufactured, either.  That was the big thing.  I'd let my chemically imbalanced, neurotic brain manufacture desires before.  I spent a good twenty years of my life convincing myself I was lonely and that I really needed someone to be with.  But it wasn't real; it wasn't true.  A string of failed relationships do a pretty good job of illustrating that.

Funny enough, it wasn't until I quit wanting to be with someone that I met Nicole.  And after that I didn't want to be with just anyone, I wanted to be with her.

That's actually a pretty good marker for me.  The first few years of my life in Los Angeles stripped me down and forced me to acknowledge both the things that I really wanted and the things that I'd fabricated.  I wrote some short stories.  I wrote a book.  I met Nicole.  I self-published a short story collection.  I wrote another book.  I got that book published.  I got a few short stories published.  I wrote another book.  It's made it to the third round of a big time contest.

There's probably some crazy "don't be afraid to want things" moral to this story.  I suppose that's a fair point.  I often wonder what my life would have been like had I actually pursued my passion from the start.  As much as I loved my time at Ohio University, I sometimes wonder what would have become of me if I'd gone somewhere like NYU, perhaps gotten out of Ohio and pulled away from my Midwestern pragmatism.

Huh.  Maybe that's why I feel like I really started writing when I moved to Los Angeles.  Maybe being there, being away from what I knew, being surrounded by millions of people all pursuing their ridiculous dreams, made me feel comfortable enough to try it myself.  That would certainly explain why L.A. is romanticized in my head.

Don't get me wrong; I was born and raised in Ohio and I'm proud of that fact.  I'm a Bobcat from Ohio University and I will be wearing my t-shirt at work tomorrow.  Ohio is who I am, or at least who most of me is.

But I think part of me was born in Los Angeles.

Who knows what the Bay area will bring me?  If Los Angeles allowed me to start wanting things, maybe Danville is when I get them.

Danville has certainly provided for me on that front already.