Refusing to Write my Age

Growing up is hard, and it’s the same for everyone, but when I was a kid I thought it really sucked. I am going to turn 33 on Thursday (March 21st), and as I reach this new year (which, for some inexplainable reason, feels significant), I cannot help but look back at some of the years past.

I was short, and fat, and probably annoying as fuck. I tried to hard to get people to like me, and when I couldn’t get them to like me I just tried to get attention (usually by telling dumb jokes, dancing poorly, and pretending I was a ninja), and that led to several ass kickings, which I’m relatively sure I didn’t deserve.

My parents had always read to me when I was young, and that blossomed into a love of reading myself. The more I read, the more I found I could escape into it, and leave behind the misery of my childhood, and live a different life entirely.

Those early, elementary school years, with the bad hair-cuts, the bullies, and the semi-regular beatings, were buffered with Terry Brooks and his Shannara series. I spent many a classroom hour, ignoring the jeers and the taunts while I imagined riding into battle against the demon hordes, the Druid, Allannon, at  my elbow. In the landscape of my mind none of the problems of my real life existed, and I had a respite from the constant malice that made up my life and found a way to keep my sanity.

In my later part of high school, and my years of university, I dropped 50 pounds, grew 6 inches, discovered Shotokan Karate, and damned near lived either on the dojo floor, or in a weight room. Now, instead of being a short, chubby target for violence, I was a tall, proud, arrogant jackass. I turned into a vastly overcompensating “tough” guy, and took every opportunity to tell everyone I met how much I could bench press, or how high I could kick. Then, I found, the physical violence stopped, but the ridicule ramped up and took in any slack left by the lack of beatings.

Again, I escaped into books. My reading tastes changed as I matured, and I now turned to Jack Whyte, and the building of Camulod, to supply me with a journey to a place where I could imagine myself an important man, leading a colony of survivors to prosper in a savage, untamed land.

Once I was done my schooling I was accepted by the RCMP, and sent to freeze my ass off in Regina for 6 months of running, marching, getting yelled at, and generally hating life as I waited for the hell to be over. During this time I took up with Stephen King, and Roland of Gilead. As I was training to be a Mountie, what Roland would have called a “Gunslinger”, I imagined myself travelling with Roland and his ka-tet, seeking the Dark Tower where all the ills of the world could be solved.

No matter the period of my life, I had a constant companion, in book form, to lend me a little support and shore me up. Many hard days were defeated, and obstacles overcome, after a few minutes of pretending I was somewhere else. 

As I began writing in earnest, I have always written stories that spoke to me. I wrote about the struggle between good and evil. I told stories about a man’s journey, and his growth on his way to heroism. I wrote about standing up for what you believe in, and doing the right thing, even when it is not easy.

But one thing I realized is all of these stories are written for the man I am now. The man I have become through the last 10 years of law-enforcement experience, and the things I have seen (and wish I could forget). I have completely forgotten what it is to have the dreams of a younger man, and what those dreams meant to me as I was trying to figure out who I was going to become.

I’ve recently started a new project, and I am writing it for the me who lived through the bullying, and the long hours in a small dojo, trying to be something other than what he was. I am trying to tell a story that will appeal to that young man, and hopefully teach him something.

It’s a bit of a risk, because it is very much a departure from what I normally write. It is still, of course, going to involve good versus evil, a young man’s journey, and a great deal of magic. The main difference is the perspective I’m going to try and write it from, and the fact that I’ll have to use far less explitives.

As I start this new project, I am working hard to remember where I came from, and the stories that gave me such comfort when my days were so hard. Despite behind hard, they were good days, and made me who I am. And I’m willing to bet you had more than a few of those days too.

Feel free to share them with me, as I share this little bit of a journey with you. Perhaps we’ll come out close to the same place.

Thanks for reading.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Refusing to Write my Age

  1. francenestanley

    Your experiences touched me. I’m sure they’ll do the same for your readers. Hold onto your understanding. When you share your view, other boys will relate to your pain.
    No. I hardly remember a time when I felt out of my depth. Born superconfident and developing into an attractive woman at an early age, it’s only now I have to struggle with declining looks. I guess I share your experience in reverse.

  2. Great post, Ty. RCMP and no Michael Slade and his Special X Division? I get my mountie fix everytime he releases another book.
    Well, my friend, you turn 33 the day before I hit 44. *raises glass* Here’s to us. It’s a bit premature, but celebrating only the one day may not be enough.
    I wish you the very best with this new project. It sounds exciting. Whenever the heart gets involved it can only be good.

    -Jimmy

  3. Deborah Small

    Your story could be mine, the female version, minus the Mountie training. Books, and a hobby farm of animals, kept me company–and mostly sane–during some lonely, awkward, and frightening times. So glad those years are over and the love of books remains. Keep writing the good fight. I’m right there with you.

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