dawn-time dawnings: i’m writing a memoir!

I think I really am actually writing a coming-of-age memoir. I’m coming of age, I know that much. And I’m writing about it. Bloody oath I’m writing about – I can’t friggen stop writing about it. Some friends are telling me I need to get out of my mind, away from the computer – and what?, into their car!? No way Jose. I’m on my own trip, and today I’m fucking thrilled about it. Yesterday and the days before that? Not so much. Tomorrow? Who knows. But today I’m really actually writing a memoir. I wrote down a summary as a potential pitch recently, when i got excited about an unsolicited email from an agent. But now i can’t find it, which is good – it’s the sort of thing that should be written and re-written from scratch, even as an exercise for writing the actual damn thing. It was something like:

High-school suburban stoner makes it good in publishing before growing disillusioned with the industry and the whole entire industrialised West, heads to Thailand in pursuit of peace, returns an alcoholic, has a nervous breakdown, finds God, travels to Turkey thinking he’s got this peace thing under control, does a lot of hardcore meditation but returns to alcoholism nonetheless, returns to Australia, has another breakdown, catches up with God again and decides to share his story.

Something like that. If i rewrite it every day as i approach the idea of thinking about maybe extracting these Adventures in Sobriety posts and developing them into a manuscript, maybe in ten years i’ll have the concept distilled enough to fit it on a blurb that people might actually care to understand.

The summary i wrote for the agent was a lot more succinct and far less sarcastic and it sounded like a cliché, but whatever.

I have long maintained that clichés are clichés for a bloody good reason – when enough people can relate to an idea easily expressed by some phrase, story or experience, it can become cliché. Cliché gets a bad wrap among the over-educated arts elite, because there is this obessesion with originality – as though using cliché is somehow shamefully derivative. Not necessarily – it’s not the nature of the boat, it’s how you use it. I’m not sure if that really works, but you get the idea.

My superego gets in the way sometimes, suggesting I can’t tell stories for shit and who would care about my story anyway. But then my ego chips and says, Abhijan, you’re fucking awesome! Write this memoir and share it with whoever will listen. Your story is great – you’re a fucking trooper.

I don’t really care what either of them have to say. I’m going with my gut. I’m going with feeling on this one. And right now, the hours I spend sitting down at my journal getting longhanded with my story – they are the most peaceful hours I get, at a time when my life is in a seemingly constant state of upheavel and change.

So that’s what Adventures in Sobriety is about for now. All of the above.

I worry sometimes about whether putting this all up online is a kind of narcissistic exercise – a cry for help, a plea for attention. But right now I don’t care about that either – in one sense because i actually don’t care, but in another: i bloody do need help. Help!, i’m a drunk and a stoner.

But also it’s a cathartic process for me, and I’m arriving at insights I might never have arrived at if I hadn’t been scribbling away at this. So telling the story is as much for me as it might be for you. Of course I’m keen to hear if it resonates with you – that would be grand. We can learn from each other in sharing our stories. So bring it. Yes, I’m looking at you!


a departure from ego

This idea about writing, from a young writer i think was involved with Voiceworks while i was there, is dear to my heart, that “even if you don’t finish something, you’ll have always learned something”, and that it’s important to “enjoy the practice of writing as much as what comes out of it”.

I spent a long time thinking that writing was about publication—about finishing something to the extent that you could send it to an editor and they would say “Oh wow, yes!”, like they were orgasming over your words. Of course we need editors and the audience they can bring to our writing, but writing for the sake of process/practice is so much more important to me now, so much more therapeutical and valuable than publishing.

I started a novel manuscript as well, and yeah it’s unfinished, but by writing those 50 000 words that came to “nothing”, i learned a lot about myself, and that’s why i write now. If i write something that’s worth being shared, i throw it up on my blog, but otherwise, writing is more like meditation to me now, and that’s such a liberating departure from the sort of ego-driven writing i used to do, when i was trying to write to an audience of many instead of writing to an audience of one.

The Thing About John Updike

The thing about John Updike is, I found yet another inspiring post on Brain Pickings recently, about John Updike and some ideas of his about writing and death, and how various things we do (addictions, writing) are merely ways of avoiding accepting the reality of nothingness, of our imminent demise and the likelihood our death will be our extermination.

Happy stuff.

It was inspiring because I really like to think of a guy who’s dedicated himself to writing and contemplation,

and contemplation is a key qualifier to writing here, because lots of people write, but there is a way of writing purposefully and meaningfully that I think adds an extra dimension of importance to writing,

and that is to use writing as a tool for contemplation.

Continue reading


Flux Comb

So I started Flux Comb when perhaps I should have been journalling about yesterday or reading the Updike story I found or otherwise somehow processing how inspired I was by hanging out with C,

and then it got really late and some of the wind fell out from under my wings, but I pursued some of this nonetheless, because that’s what flux combing is:

flux combobulation;

combing the flux until you find something you can identify with for long enough to not feel entirely adrift on a planet spinning so fast through a cosmos so random there is no chance of ever not having messy hair because one moment you’ve run a comb through it and the next moment CHANGE.

I write about things to help me understand them, and in writing about yesterday I hoped some insight would pop out, but understood that maybe it wouldn’t and I have to allow myself to be okay with that, because insights are like karma in the sense an experience might not yield an insight until decades later when some experience you have now then causes you to remember how you might have reacted to a similar experience back then.

Something I know is important (something that yielded insight immediately) is that I accessed a sort of existential mania I had long associated with my recently former tendency to binge-party in search of edifying drunken conversation I would then promptly forget and be much too frazzled and fragile to recover.