Tag: taradiddle

On Becoming a Fully Formed Adult

The face of a fully functioning adult.

Over five years ago I wrote a blog post titled, pretentiously, “The Ceaseless Onslaught of Adulthood or Pretension and the Act of Leaving Childhood Dreams to Children.” It’s about my feelings of getting older as a creative, and the push and pull between doing the responsible thing and doing the fulfilling thing.

Well, in the last five and a half years, I’ve further entrenched myself into adulthood, culminating with the purchase of my first house just two days ago. It’s a strange feeling, like a happy ending to a movie that you know is the middle chapter of a trilogy. I never had a clear distinction in my mind of what 33 year old me might be up to, but if 13 year old me did this probably wasn’t it.

There’s no way I could have imagined that I’d be married to who I’m married to, with the job I have, making the money I make (especially making the money I make, even if it’s not nearly as much as this sentence makes it sound like it is–growing up poor definitely put a cap on my conception of a good salary), and now living in the area I live with my own house.

Even ten years ago, around the time I first met my wife, I was making $10k per year through Americorps, working at an after school science program. I could barely make rent, had very few prospects, and felt like I was never going to escape my hometown. I was writing then, and had even just finished production on a movie I wrote (you can watch that, if you want), but was ignorant to what sort of writer I wanted to be, let alone how to become one.

Things wouldn’t get much better for a while. When I was 24 I did escape Buffalo. The next three years were hard. I was never able to get a foothold in my career, didn’t know how to make friends as an adult (actually… I still have trouble with that one), and spent almost as much time on unemployment as I did working. Luckily, I had a good support structure–something I know many others aren’t as fortunate to have.

I continued to write, entering screenplay competitions (and doing well in some, although never winning outright) and doing some freelance work to make ends meet. Still, no traction.

Fast forward to now and I’m by most metrics a successful adult. Wife, job, cats, house, car, etc. And I’m still writing. Still haven’t met with much success (as we covered last post). Sometimes the dream feels really far away, but more often I can still see it like a green light across the bay.

I initially meant for this post to say something about the act of getting older and turning pages in our lives. Maybe discuss nostalgia and what it does to us. But as I reflect on where I was at any other point in my life versus where I am now, I don’t feel much nostalgia. Beginning a new chapter feels natural and right, just as it did when I chose a different high school than my best friends. Just as it did when I left Buffalo, or when I followed my then-girlfriend (now wife) to New Jersey so she could pursue her Psy.D. Just as it does now, having closed on our first house.

The dream is still there. Maybe it’s evolved. Maybe it feels smaller now when compared with other life milestones. But it’s there. And it’s not going anywhere.

Taradiddle and Profundity

Pictured: Me, an intellectual.

My coworker taught me a word that I worry may describe my writing: Taradiddle. Taradiddle has two definitions:

  1. a small lie; fib
  2. pretentious nonsense

You can probably guess which definition my work, and maybe my whole personality, falls under. I imagine someone picking up something I’ve written and saying, to use it in a sentence, “This story is a whole lot of taradiddle. This poor author’s perspective is all catawampus, bless his heart.” (Catawampus is another word taught to me by a coworker, which is how I know to say “bless your heart” afterward.)

See, I’ve got ideas, man, and those ideas feel big. Ideas about things as abstract as the nature of time and what justice is to an uncaring, ambivalent universe. And ideas about things as concrete as (in)equality of all kinds and the role government plays in our lives. Things I’ve studied and thought about and have questions that aren’t easily answered. But as I’m writing I always wonder why the fuck anyone would care about my thoughts on these things?

I’m a straight white guy. My perspective is that of a straight white guy. Is that perspective really one the world needs more of? I’m not an expert in anything in particular (at least, not anything of interest to anyone–even me), so even with the best research I’m capable of my approach to any specific topic isn’t likely to be the most informed.

But most authors aren’t necessarily writing about topics in which they’re experts. Stephen King and Chuck Wendig weren’t infectious disease experts when they wrote The Stand and Wanderers. J.K. Rowling didn’t practice magic as a young boy–she’s only slightly magical and has never been a young boy. Still, these authors wrote affecting, profound stories around these topics.

Maybe it comes down to having the confidence in your craft and ability to communicate some sort of truth even if the facts aren’t totally on point. Profundity isn’t necessarily complexity. It as much truth to say that being heartbroken is a painful shared experience as it is to explain the mechanics of orbital gravity and how that affects the tides. What matters, then, is the emotional connection author makes with reader and how those truths are communicated in a way that is felt. Perhaps it’s as much about relating to one another through story as it is about the explanation of ideas. In that sense, our A/S/L (those over college-age might get that) or expertise doesn’t matter so much.

Despite my worry of spewing taradiddle or coming off as pseudo-intellectual (which, let’s be honest, is probably exactly what I am), the aim is for a connection and not to be seen as an authority on anything specific. In fact, I think it’s dangerous to consider anyone an authority about anything they haven’t dedicated their lives to. That’s how we get appeals to false authority and experts in one field falling prey to the Dunning-Kruger effect when discussing another, perhaps related, field. That’s how misinformation spreads.

So I’ll continue to write potential taradiddle as I explore these ideas and try to answer the questions that vex me. The hope, then, is that my taradiddle connects with people on an emotional level, if not an intellectual one.

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