‘There was whiskey in the devils blood; and there was blood in my cup.’
I used to think that I was really intelligent; that I was this supreme thinker who was going to redefine what it meant to be a writer in the modern day. I thought that my opinions were always well educated and justified. I cussed at conventional wisdom and dished out advice to anyone foolish enough to listen. I was the proverbial blind leading the blind. And I was leading myself and anyone who followed off of a precipice. I genuinely thought that I was better than others. I told myself that I didn’t need university, or advice from those who had achieved before me, or anyone at all. I shut out the world by trying to prematurely transcend beyond it.
In reality I wasn’t nearly as smart as I thought and I wasn’t better than my peers. And I wasn’t ever going to achieve anything or find happiness with the arrogant mindset of a child. What I was though was bitter, irrational, and so damn angry at myself for failing to actually live up to my own obscure ideals that the anger began to manifest itself in depression and anxiety. I told myself that I wanted to be successful; that I damn well deserved to be. But I wasn’t really willing to put in the work to make my dreams a reality. I was so blinded by my own inflated ego that I’d forgotten to produce anything worth reading.
I wanted to dance with the devil. But whenever the bastard rose to meet me I realised that I wasn’t ready for the challenge. Here I was trying to move with the best of them when I hadn’t even learned how to crawl.
I was screwing up every opportunity afforded me. I was too arrogant to bother studying and began failing subjects; too self-absorbed to realise that I was posting rants and dribbling bullshit that I started haemorrhaging readers. And too concerned with stroking my own ego that I couldn’t see just how far my head was stuck up my arse.
At my most arrogant I wrote a post on this site where I expressed a yearning to dethrone all those who had achieved before me. I wanted to drag down the literary greats and take my place as a God. Press my foot against their neck and watch them cower in fear. The idea was noble, but incredibly naïve. I wasn’t the wolf at the door I claimed to be; I was a boy trapped in a cage, pounding at the glass while others mocked my dreams of being free.
When I finally realised that I wasn’t the man I thought I was, or the man I wanted to be, I decided to start over. I took the first character I had ever created, a soldier by the name of Jason Dark, and I started writing a story worth telling. For the first time in years I was producing something that wasn’t just an egotistical wank; instead I wrote a story that I myself would actually like to read. Then I expanded and I started doing the same thing here at Renegade Press. If I stumbled across a site curated by a callous writer spruiking his ego in poorly written postings I would be embarrassed for them. Yet I was doing exactly that.
So I changed. As hard as it was I changed. I tore down the idea of who I thought I was and gave up on being a prick and started focusing on being a writer instead.
I have started studying properly. Well, kind of. I still have to force myself to prioritise university over my more creative endeavours, but I’m getting there. I’m learning to listen to the advice of those who have achieved before me rather than attempting to prove them wrong. And I have started reaching out to the artists, writers, and musicians that inspired me in an effort to let them know just how beautiful their works really were. I still want to dance with the devil, so I’ve taught myself to crawl. Now with my debut novel now in print I’m starting to walk. I still have a hell of a lot to learn before I can move like him, but I’m prepared to bust my arse to make it happen.
I’ll outdance him before his peers, leave him stunned and speechless. Then I’ll tap his veins, fill my cup with his blood and become the man who did the unthinkable. I’ll break out of the cage of ignorance I built for myself, and become a wolf tearing down the door.
It turns out that I’m not as intelligent as I once chose to believe. And I’m perfectly fine with that. In fact, I prefer it that way. I still have so much to learn in this industry and even though I’m now a published author, I’m still no better or important than someone spilling their thoughts onto a page for the very first time. I’m still arrogant; at times I encourage myself to bare my fangs. I want to be aggressive; I want to be vicious and unafraid. But I want to do be more cerebral when doing so. There’s nothing gained from savaging oneself or others in the pursuit of success. There’s nothing gained from believing you are too good to crawl. If you don’t start at the bottom you’ll never truly appreciate the view from the top.
You can’t be a wolf at the door if you’re still trapped inside a cage.