“It ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. It’s about how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.’
It seems as though every single writer at some point in their life attempts to describe their process through the analogy of boxing. I’m a fighter they say. I’ve been knocked to the ground and picked myself back up again just to get where I am! Oftentimes their stories are inspiring and can in some way be loosely tied into the boxing metaphor, but after a while they can all start to gel together and fall into a state of forget-ability. It’s a great analogy; don’t get me wrong. But ultimately it’s a terrible cliché that we creative folk have forever tarnished. Even as I wrote out the epigraph at the top of this post I could hear the collective groan of ‘oh God, he’s quoting Rocky now?’
You better believe that I am.
Tomorrow is an important day for me. It marks the one-year anniversary of my trip to New York; the moment where I started to get my shit together and actually make some headway towards becoming an author. On July 3rd 2014 when I sat alone in an airport terminal awaiting my flight’s 6am departure I wasn’t exactly in the best of mental states. I’d just spent a month living with my brother and his now wife after a failed relationship had forced me to move out of my home. I was working a job that made me miserable, and had shrunk into myself to such a degree that I wasn’t even maintaining contact with my closest friends. Even my writing was terrible; flick back and read a few blog entries and you’ll see that I was a troubled soul desperate to make sense of his life.
In boxing terms I’d been knocked the fuck out. I was sprawled out on the mat staring at the ceiling as I sucked in painful gasps of breath, wondering how the hell I’d been sucker punched so easily. But as painful as it was at the time, I picked myself up and stepped onto a plane and gave myself the opportunity to fight again. I figured that if I wanted to be the wolf I claimed to be I had to learn how to get hit and get back up and just keep going.
Bellicose is an adjective that literally means showing aggression and willingness to fight. On July 3rd 2014 I didn’t realize that my willingness to chase a dream even when times were tough would allow me to become the man I am right now. I didn’t realize that just by dragging myself into pitching sessions I would reignite a confidence and passion that had been lost. And I could never have fathomed that the confidence my New York adventure inspired would ultimately allow me to have my work put into print.
Now twelve months on I have published my first novel, I run a healthy blog with a steadily growing audience, I’ve got a new career, a clearer mind and a beautiful girl who puts up with a lot of my creative antics. When I look at the monumental shift between where I was and where I am now, I can’t help but feel proud of what I’ve become. Life gets shit sometimes. There’s no denying that. Every single one of us has our hardship. But if you learn to build resilience and continuously give yourself the opportunity to fight: if you doggedly rise whenever you’re knocked down, eventually things get better. And if you keep battling on, and not just saying so through clichéd writings then eventually you’ll find happiness.
Writers and artists are often tormented souls. We live in the grey; an infinite space between society’s black and white where we fail to fully understand or accept life and conventional wisdom. At times life in the grey can leave you feeling isolated and alone; the art you strive so hard to create can literally leave you feeling dejected and disconnected from the people closest to you. But it’s important to remember in those moments of isolation that you’re not alone. You’re with me. And you’re with every single writer, musician, and artist that has come before you, or is still yet to come.
When you learn to pick yourself back up each time you get hit you start to realize just how strong you truly are. When you realize the depths of your own strength you can use it to produce artwork that becomes a shining light for others who are searching for an end to their own downward spirals.
Twelve months ago I never would have imagined that people would be buying my novels. I’d dreamed about it; but when I got rejected or punched out I’d give up. Now I’m sitting here at my desk smiling at just how far I’ve come in such a short space of time. The best part? I haven’t achieved all of my goals just yet; as far as I’m concerned I’ve only just begun.