Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Lost time

Emma Garland describes herself as "a so-called writer" and who specializes in "music, being mad and shagging". She has a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, which is nothing special, but is working as a writer and that is a lot better than most people with her education manage.

We might sneer at her but I'm not inclined to. Yes, she writes about trivial things in a trivial way but so did Proust for most of his career.

She'll be 10 years out of university this year, which makes her one of those writers who've made a career out of not growing up. That's a much harder trick to pull off than you might be inclined to think. She writes mostly for Vice UK, where she is features editor.

I mention her here because she has written a piece called "An A-Z of Things the 2010s Killed." It's mostly snark, as these things always are, so let's not blame her for that either. What struck me (and others) was the entry for he letter Y, which is titled "you". Here is what she says on the subject,
I don’t know a single person who has made it through the decade without losing something vital (their chill, their general faith in humanity, their dignity to a skater who runs a meme account and ghosts you after giving you chlamydia etc), so shout out you for enduring one of the most stressful decades in history.
Okay, chill, faith in humanity and dignity are all things you can get back—to lose them is not to lose "you"—but let's keep practicing charity, unlike some others I won't name. I suspect that we are seeing an example of accidental self-revelation here. Someone violated Emma's dignity. That's got to be at least partly her fault but it still really hurts when that happens.

So what? I know, I know, doesn't something like this happen to absolutely everyone in absolutely every decade? Well, not quite everyone, but I think most people have something like this happen to us. I know it happened to me and I know that it hurt more than anything else I've been through. Yes, "one of the most stressful decades in history" is silly but the last few years of it were possibly were the most stressful in Emma Garland's history.

And I suspect it's going to get worse before it gets better, if it does get better and it doesn't get better for an awful lot of people. She probably isn't making much money and it is even less likely that she's saving much. I don't get the sense that there is a lot of emotional stability in her life either. I doubt she has spent much time worrying about either but that is starting to change, which is the source of all the stress.

Which is why a very good decade looks so awful to her. Don't sneer, it must be bloody awful to be Emma Garland. She can get her chill back pretty easily. I doubt she'll even miss her faith in humanity. Her dignity will be much harder to recover but it can be done. The ability and willingness to be vulnerable again, on the other hand, will take a heroic effort. I hope she succeeds.

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