Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
The Long Process
Or, The World Kicking Your Ass For Awhile

So someone I know recently had dinner with several old uni friends. The occasion was that one of them was just back in the country; and almost all of these the person I know had not seen since they were all in their first year of undergrad.

When she had last been around this group, they had all been full of optimism and excitement and initiative and self-confidence. They wanted to try everything. And, mainly, they didn't doubt for a minute that they would conquer the world.

Now, they had been out in what we call the real world for three years. And all of that was just gone. "What are you doing now?" she would ask one, or another. "Oh, working for [insert telecom giant]." That's just a for instance. "What does she do for them?" I asked. She manages the account for some other large business. Whenever they need new phone lines put in, she makes sure [the telecom giant] hustles to it.

My (head-snappingly cynical, albeit extremely smart and funny) friend Bill Pemberton always used to say: "You'll feel differently after the world has kicked your ass around for awhile." I'm also reminded of one of very many priceless lines from Infinite Jest, about a guy trying to get it together in a halfway house: "The world had kicked his ass, and he was regrouping."

As the inimitable – and, not just hilarious, but most learned and righteous – David Wong has it:

Many of you will get very depressed in your 20s, and some of you will stay that way the rest of your lives. Over the years your garage band will break up, you career dream will fall through, a girl will break your heart, you'll be unhappy with your body, you'll lose your parents, your favorite pet will die, you will endure at least one very terrible injury that requires hospitalization and breaks new boundaries for what kind of pain you thought was possible.

The reason why this will lead to depression, where it may not have done so for an equivalent person 200 years ago, is because you were raised on illogical stories where things always work out for the main character for utterly arbitrary reasons. Han Solo can shoot straight, but none of the bad guys can – even though they train more. John McClane beats the terrorists because he has toughness and perseverance – something the bad guys lack, even though they should be equally desperate. If a guy and a girl are right for each other, they always wind up together, careers and geography and personal hang-ups be damned.

Here's the problem: these fantasies were created by adults, as a means of escape from the real world. You, however, have been watching them since you were five – for most of us these were our first impressions of how the adult world works, even if on a subconscious level. You had no context to realize they were bullshit. It sounds frivolous, but that doesn't change the fact that some of you reading this will not survive the long process of learning how different the real world is.

If it helps, try to remember that you're still one of the one percent of humanity that was born in a time and place where there is such a thing as anesthesia.


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about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
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