I’ve really been struggling with this blog lately. After a phenomenal run a few months ago that saw me producing a continuous stream of updates, I’ve fallen back into that creative lull that sees me producing sporadic entries that aren’t necessarily my best efforts. But all hope is not lost. While I’ve been creatively stagnant on this platform, I have still been writing a lot. My novels are coming along beautifully, and I’m learning more and more about myself and my craft every time I take to my computer.
But when it comes to this page, I’ve lost my voice. My confidence has deserted me, and I’ve been left sitting alone in a wasteland of half formed ideas and unjust hate for everyone and everything. There’s blood on my hands and hate in my mind. I just don’t understand why.
Sometimes blogging feels like a dying art form. Sometimes it feels like people don’t care about real talent or grit anymore. We live in a disposable world where people want instantaneous satisfaction and don’t have the patience required to consume literature. Society would rather watch a seven second vine video and glorify the inappropriate antics of a halfwit than consume the rich and highly rewarding posts of bloggers across the globe. Some of the most incredible pieces of writing I have ever witnessed have been on blogs that receive a dismal amount of hits, while many of the most creatively void videos and photographs on social media become worldwide sensations. We live in a world where we worship instant success and fame. If someone has to strive to achieve their dreams through grit and determination, we automatically assume they just don’t have what it takes to be great.
I guess that you could say lately I’ve been feeling defeated. What’s the point of trying to produce something beautiful if people are more interested in the obscene? What’s the point of trying to redefine a world as an artist, when it is more interested in the idea of creating instantaneous celebrities with an expiry date of seven seconds?
I write for myself. I always have. And I write because it’s an incredibly cathartic process that allows me to open my heart and mind to a world that I often feel disconnected from. As paradoxical as it sounds, I isolate myself and sit at my computer lost in my own head, so that I can connect with the macrocosm surrounding me. I believe that literature and words have the power to change the world, and although I write to overcome my own insecurities, a small portion of my soul yearns to be a part of that intellectual movement.
Yesterday one of my favourite lyricists made a bold decision to open up to the world about the man he is verses the façade he has portrayed to the world for over a decade. Buddy Neilsen (the man whose name has appeared on many epigraphs on this site) revealed to the world that his sexuality cannot be clearly defined by the two poles of straight, or gay. He opened his soul and said that he has spent the best part of his life struggling to understand his sexual orientation, and as a result has struggled with depression and alcohol abuse. The revelation left me stunned. I have been a fan of his band Senses Fail for a decade. Ever since their first album Let It Enfold You (a masterful work that draws heavy influence from poetry and literature. Even the title comes from a Bukowski poem) I have felt inspired by the lyrics that Neilsen has growled, screamed and crooned.
To find that a man as talented as Neilsen could be so plagued by demons left me feeling oddly inspired. While I don’t wish to celebrate the years of emotional havoc that Neilsen endured before he found inner peace, I believe that there is something quite beautiful in knowing that someone so successful, albeit in a chaotic and somewhat destructive sense of the word, could be so human. In a world where we often place celebrities on pedestals and almost justify and encourage their destructive behaviour, it is a wonderful thing to see a man come to terms with who he truly is. To stand up and take responsibility for the self-destruction he bought upon himself and finally allow himself a chance to be at peace.
Senses Fail’s latest offering Renacer (see what I did there) takes on an even more eloquent feel now that Neilsen has accepted his own nature and felt comfortable to reveal that to the world. The title, Renacer is a Spanish word meaning to be born again, and as Neilsen growls his way through soulful lyrics denouncing himself for his own shortcomings and yearnings for inner harmony, one can feel the passion for life, for acceptance, and for his art interlaced through the often brutal screams. He really is a man, just like me, plagued by his own demons who writes and sings as a way of creating cohesion between his tortured soul and the universe.
But I digress. The point of all this is that through Buddy’s revelation, through his battles with sexuality, depression, and alcohol abuse, he has inspired me to create art of my own. And yesterday, through his willingness to stand before his legion of fans and denounce his own demons and accept his strengths he has once again inspired me to write. While I will never know the frustration of battling with sexuality, I do know the toll of fighting that most heinous of battles with mental illness and depression. It’s the kind of battle you never truly win, you’ll never wake up and realise that you no longer have an affliction for self-loathing and hate. Instead you take every day for what it is. You accept the beauty of the moments afforded to you, and you learn to push through when your mind feels like a tomb.
Art is an incredible thing. Whether you paint, sing, write, draw, build, destroy, or whatever else. Art is the glue that binds together the fabric of our souls and allows us as a society to collectively push the envelope of what we believe is possible. Through writing, singing and performing Buddy Neilsen managed to develop an understanding of who he really is, and the result of his creative process is some of the most lyrically rich music produced within the hardcore music scene. But the truth behind his new found inner peace was that he never once sought to create music for fame or success. He sought to better understand himself and grow as a human being. His honesty, imperfections and strengths shines through in his works and the fans and the fame are merely a by-product of his dedication and devotion.
So while at times it can feel like blogging is a dying art form in this era of social media and disposable content, I need to take a step back from my violent hatred of talentless consumption and realise that those mediums will never last. There will always be Facebook, Vines, Twitter, and whatever else, but their content will be consumed and disregarded by a legion of users who show indifference to their creator. But writing, and music, and art will last forever. The words that I write today will stand the test of time and be remembered forever by the people that they truly touch. When a writer becomes more concerned with competing for likes, shares, and mass consumption they risk losing sight of what really matters; and that is the catalysts and compulsions behind what they do. I write to fight off the demons of my mind, and to connect with a world that often leaves me broken and confused.
It’s not about likes; it’s not about competing with alternate mediums or artists. It’s about me and my story. It’s about creating something that I am proud of. Something that I believe in. Money, fame, and all that stuff are just potential by-products. I’ll write to the day my heart stops whether I make a million dollars or whether I make none. And when I find myself beat down and sitting in that barren wasteland of broken thoughts and ill-fated projects I’ll remember that no matter how creatively fragile I may feel, my writing is what defines me. As Buddy Neilsen says ‘it doesn’t matter if you fall down. Get the fuck back up.’