REFLECTIONS ON A VIOLENT YEAR
I don’t normally do blog posts, which is funny for a site built on a blogging template. But 2022 is almost over, and considering everything that’s happened (and that Night Electricity itself is two years old!), it feels appropriate to break kayfabe. I wrote a lot more for this site and elsewhere than I did in 2020 or 2021 despite, in some ways, having less time to do so. Why? A rhetorical question, in part, one I only have some answers to. After five years of living and working in China, it felt like the writing was on the wall for the company I was working for. I continued to teach, but I was checked out of pretty much everything else. The prospect of coming back “home” to the UK didn’t fill me with hope, nor did it feel like something that would happen. I felt like I was in limbo.
I always felt like I was in limbo.
I leant into my internet persona more as real-life connections diminished. I still met with my best friend each week, but outside of him and a couple of co-workers, it was a lonely atmosphere. I didn’t get “good” at Twitter, though I certainly became more active on it, and I would be lying if I merely justified using it as a platform for sharing my work. So it’s funny that I heard about Very Online from one of my long-time IRL friends instead of through some arcane web of connections and algorithms. But I’m thrilled they suggested it. Having a shorter thing to work on instead of endless unfinished novels did wonders for my creative drive, and I’m still pretty proud of meat_space. I’m grateful that it was selected, of course, but more importantly, I’ve made a lot of good, human connections from it, ones that make me less pessimistic about the internet and people as a whole. I wrote several short stories this year (you can find all but FIN-DOM here on Night Electricity, though do please check out Very Online, too!), all of which were, in some way, violent. I am not a violent person. I don’t think we’re at the point where that kind of disclaimer is necessary, but while I don’t think there’s a connection between creating violent art and violent thoughts/actions, it does mean I’ve been in that headspace for a while.
Catharsis doesn’t work. At least, not how I wanted it to. Real-life frustrations and angst might be translatable into prose, but they don’t go anywhere. I knew this on some level, but I continued anyway. It wasn’t all negatively motivated. After all, each short let me try something different, experiment with different forms, points of view, or else focus on an area I feel weak at. This is, in part, a compromise with my still very results-focused brain, even if a project were less well received, it would still have been “useful”. I want to move away from that kind of thinking, and I’m getting there, but it’s a slow process. The violence, though. I have some more shorts to finish, and one is currently awaiting acceptance/rejection from a publication. Of the three currently on rotation, only one isn’t horrifically violent. That one I think could be the best one I’ve written, but it’s one I’ve taken very, very slowly. I could view that negatively and chastise myself for pursuing cheap thrills, but even if catharsis doesn’t work, in a turbulent year it’s hardly surprising that I’d indulge in that. Because I did come home, and oops, all that writing online did actually help sort some shit out in my brain, even if it wasn’t the intended emotional release. When I did finally get back “home” (a house I had at the time spent just over a collective month living in) writing SCUM WORLD helped me feel normal.
That feeling hasn’t lasted. I re-read Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, a novel I like a lot less than when I first read it, but there was a passage in it that took me aback. In it, the protagonist has just gone on a business trip following a long period of trauma. She describes it like this:
“The food at this inn had been hideous, but the next day we were planning to get in the van and move on. As I walked along in the moonlight, I wished that I might spend the rest of my life traveling from place to place. If I had a family to go home to perhaps I might have felt adventurous, but as it was I would be horribly lonely. Still, it just might be the life for me. When you’re traveling, every night the air is clear and crisp, the mind serene. In any case, if nobody was waiting for me anywhere, yes, this serene life would be the thing. But I’m not free, I realized; I’ve been touched by Yuichi’s soul. How much easier it would be to stay away forever.”
No, I’m not a Japanese woman having an existential crisis at the dawn of The Lost Decade. But that feeling of limbo comes from this gnawing sense of not being in the right place or maybe not being right for the place I live in. I’ve long understood that that’s in my head, but not realised how much I seek novelty in place to feel at peace and that when I can’t have that, I try to make and finish something to draw some line under a block of time. I am mostly proud of what I’ve written this year, but something has to change.
Hello, my name is Morgan. I will still use S.T. as an online moniker, but you might see my real name more often. I will at least finish one of those aforementioned shorts (hopefully in the beginning of the new year), but I want to take some time to focus on myself, my health, as well as longer fiction work and non-fiction articles for here. I’ve made many big steps in being comfortable with who I am, etc., but I want to feel like I exist without making something, even if I would never give up on writing for the world. 2022 was my year of violence, of dramatic change. Now I need to give myself a chance to build something from the rubble. I was about to apologise for this being self-indulgent, but this is my website, and I’m pretty sure I’m allowed at least one of these. I want to sincerely thank everyone who has read anything on here, as though I’d write to an audience of just me, it is still touching that anyone has an interest and what I have to say or create.
Here’s to 2023, huh?