Transition Girl

Why transition girl?... Best answered by a quote from the Iliad....."The soul was not made to dwell in a thing; and when forced to it, there is no part of that soul but suffers violence."

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


I was re-reading recently excerpts from one of the earlier novels I wrote in my writing career, which includes not only prose but a smattering of my poetry. It was the book I wrote to get out of my system the 'excesses' most writers experience in their early work. This for me was both flowery writing as well as the difficulty in distinguishing the difference between my own emotions and that of the characters I created.

I am much better now at writing (for example) a teenage boy even though I've never been one (my current manuscript being published later this year, the Peithosian Gift, includes a few such characters). The main character in my earlier work, Transition Girl, on the other hand, could be easily misinterpreted as my personal philosophical journey even though she is a work of fiction. I readily admit I saw too much of myself in that character - what I might have been if I'd made more extreme life choices. I still write a lot about philosophy generally, and ethics and family in my work, I just do not feel the need to channel my own emotions and character traits any more.

Anyway, here's an excerpt from that earlier work.

Utopia - a good place.
It is not a physical place. I have spent so much of my time looking for it. While I will always continue to have my breath taken away by the beautiful places that I have seen, there is more to utopia than melting into those spectacular spaces.
It could be a mental space, perhaps the place where the things that have made me sad no longer exist.
Things that I have said and done. As a thirteen year old, telling a boy who I did not like in school to have a rotten Christmas, the immoral turpitude in my unwavering voice – I still think now how cruel I could be. Cruel that I still am.
Things that have been said and done to me. Joshua saying he did not know me and believing he never did in the twelve years he persevered with me, in that moment before walking out the door forever – perhaps the most disappointing words ever uttered within my earshot. Cruel that he was.
Is utopia a state of mind? I look at the aberrant Brighton boy and wonder if this particular flaneur struggles with depression as much as I do. I pretend that using cognitive behaviour tools like the power of positive thinking will make a difference to what floats around inside my head and most days I get away with the subterfuge – the appearance that I am content with my lot.
What is natural happiness anyway? Is happiness a pursuit, a choice or something that just happens? Arguably, a lack of choice can be deemed to be a form of happiness. I have actually heard it described as synthetic happiness. But I think “making believe” that you are happy with your lot in life if you have limited choices is self-delusion.
(Drug induced happiness (a more obvious response to the phrase synthetic) may be another form of self delusion but can be irresistible for some and, quite frankly, whether it's real or not - elation felt in the moment could be described as happiness.)
I don't accept that dissolute restiveness will necessarily allow me to experience some level of euphoria. Although I accept that being out of control can make me feel unhappy sometimes. People are more prone to melancholy and depression when they lack control.
I actually feel more content when I am surprised and when those surprises are things totally outside my control - when I do not have to make any decisions at all or someone else makes the decisions for me. Maybe some measure of going with the flow - irrespective of the degree of control or choice - makes me feel content because it is easy.
I am not that different from the rest of my family after all.
Utopia - the place that cannot be.


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