The Imperfect Words
I wanted to wait until I had the perfect words to write before I put my pen to paper but I knew that I had nothing perfect to say. What I have to write now is raw and flawed, because there is no impeccable approach to the narration of an imperfect experience. For far too many years I have been trapped within my escape. I have been chasing a nightmare disguised as a dream. I speak cryptically because the process of writing a book is a cynical riddle whether you understand the joke at the end or not. The truth is that I don’t know how to write this, nor why I feel so compelled to, but I need you all to know what it was like becoming frighteningly lost within a world that I created within my mind.
My dream was to write a book but I had no story to tell. It was an innocent allure, a naive yearning for validation as a writer, a daunting yet taunting self-conception of my potential. I wanted to be an author but did not want to tell my own story. I wished to distance myself from the life lived within the pages the way an artist removes their ego from their artwork and creates a masterpiece that casts a shadow in which they humbly hide from the spotlight. When I first spoke my idea into existence I wanted to separate who I was from what I was creating in perhaps a vain attempt to demonstrate my lack of vanity. So, with an amorphous concept and an ambiguous opening line, three and a half years ago I set down the harrowing path of authorship, blissfully ignorant to the true nature of the pursuit.
“The Bandana boy” shape-shifted for the first year as my life began to mirror the story. I struggled to fabricate an existence out of pure imagination and was ultimately forced to taint the story with reality. I was the author, yet every word that I wrote felt plagiarized. My characters were strangers to me; I did not know what they should say or what they should do because I did not know who they were. I was writing words that I wanted to read and shoving them down the throats of stereotyped characters in clichéd situations. Eventually I came to embrace many of the classic archetypal literary traps and compensated for the “unoriginality” with a unique level of symbolic cognizance, allowing the characters to be self-aware of their roles in conveying the themes and thesis. I became obsessed with the concept of disfiguring the recognizable story elements of a young adult novel and my focus narrowed on the dialogue. Every word was spoken from my lips before it was written in marker on a new page; I applied a pseudo method-acting approach where I would attempt to replicate the emotional ambience of the scene within my own world in order to ensure the authenticity of the words being thought or spoken. I would intentionally sadden myself, or distress myself to fit the mood of the moment so that nothing but true emotions could be elicited from the pages. It was a miserable and debatably maniacal practice but I believed that the more vulnerable that I was the more strength the story would hold.
The spine that was shaping “The Bandana boy” was one built from bones of failed heroics, the pressure of prophecy, and the urgency of escapism. It quickly became a terrible irony - being unable to escape from a story based on that very idea. The more I feared the mental confinement the more I bled the concept into the story. What I mean to say is that I used to write to free my mind, but this book had ensnared me to the point where I could not think of anything but writing it. I needed to be free from my dream of writing the novel but I had nowhere to escape to. It consumed me daily, nightly, no matter where I went or what I did the looming pressure of the unfinished work buried me alive. I don’t even remember the last time that I enjoyed something purely. Many memories are tainted by being mentally absent from my physical presence. I felt as if I were drowning, to such a degree that I was forced to channel the tangible angst and convert it into a motif throughout the novel. I lost all balance between living in the world I was creating and in that which I already existed. I became unhealthy and developed poor habits. I sacrificed moments, money, and an innumerable amount of hours of my life that I will forever feel were misplaced and unaccounted for. I doubted everything about who I was and who I could be. I feared proving myself to be inadequate in what I assumed to be my strongest sphere. I became paranoid, self-deprecating, and forced myself to believe in a dream that did not seem to believe in me.
Not every story has a happy ending, nor should they. I won’t spoil whether or not “The Bandana boy” is one of those stories that ends how one would want it to end, but I can promise you that my personal story will. I believe that I needed to go through all that I went through to prove to myself that I could. I do not feel weaker from the pain and suffering that I endured; I feel nearly invincible. I dedicated myself with a furious passion to a vision that could have escaped me time and time again but I refused to live with a dream deferred. I do not feel alone after the years of self-imposed isolation; I feel more connected with the spectrum of human emotions and the roots of the human existence than ever before. I have seen the darkest side of dreaming and it does not scare me anymore. I have accepted and embraced my own definitions of success in this life that allow me to experience gratitude in the most heartfelt of fashions. I will not value my art based on the appraisal of others. I crafted, with meticulous, painstaking detail, a novel of nearly 70,000 words, each of them imperfect in their own way, and told a story that is as flawed and vulnerable as the readers who will hold the book in their hands.
“A beautiful gift it is to be able to escape, isn’t it? When you don’t wish to be somewhere, you can be anywhere.” - The Bandana boy
The debut novel “The Bandana boy” by Ryan Anthony Dube will be available for sale on Friday, September 20th on penandpaperstories.com and will be available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.