The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

Agh. I hate myself for doing it. Opening a post with a title written in Latin makes me feel like such a fraud. This isn’t ancient Rome, and the fact that I write from my heart, rather than my head means that I can hardly be considered to be a scholar. So to use an adage as historically significant as I have in a vain attempt to pass myself off as some kind of well-versed academic just feels wrong. And yet I did it anyway. I chose a title written in a dialect that I will never fully understand and tried to claim it as my own. Memento vivere – Memento mori.

Remember to live. Remember to die.

Lately it feels as though I’m dying. At least from a creative standpoint anyway. I have been plagued by a writer’s block so nauseating that I haven’t actually written anything for weeks. Instead I have been opening up my laptop, or staring at a blank page in one of my many notebooks and wondering where the hell my creative impulses went.

When I finished writing my sophomore novel War, I was on a high and ready to take over the literary industry by force.  Yet at some point during the editing process I lost all confidence in my ability to create and fell into a frustrating void of nothingness where it became impossible to find my creative spark. It may not seem like much to some, but it is a pretty serious issue for a writer who defines himself as being aggressively creative to suddenly suffer from an affliction that leaves you devoid of the inspiration to write. If I take away the creative, I’m just aggressive.

Writing is my passion. It’s something that I have spent a decade struggling and striving for, living and dying by my work. During that time I have experienced success: winning competitions, curating my own website, and publishing a novel. But I also know better than most what it feels like to fail. Throughout my writing life I have been overlooked for more opportunities than I can even remember. In my formative years I was repeatedly told that I wasn’t talented enough to make it as an author; nowadays I’m continuously told that that my style isn’t palatable by industry insiders and other authors. Hell, just last week I was told that I’m not marketable as an individual, and that I fail in comparison to others because of this.

While it hurts to admit, these failures have taken their toll. There have been moments where I have suffered a crisis of confidence so grand that I have given up and walked away from my dreams. I have cried in wardrobes, set fire to manuscripts and called people horrendous names while struggling through spates of depression. At times I have I felt so emotionally shattered due to circumstances beyond my control that it has been a struggle just to crawl out of bed and face another day of feeling like I wasn’t good enough. But every single time that I have failed and fallen, I have eventually picked myself up, dusted myself off, and set out to achieve my dreams all over again.

I have always assumed that I had been blessed with an iron will. I’ve spent years believing that there was something remarkable about me that allowed me to keep striving forwards even when I felt completely hopeless. But the truth is that  I’m no different to anyone else. My ‘unwavering desire to succeed’ was merely a by-product of my life moving through a series of ebbs and flows as it unconsciously followed an idiom uttered by Roman servants to remind generals that they were fallible. Memento Vivere: Remember to live. Memento Mori: remember to die.

What that means is that for every single moment of triumph in my life, there will also be a moment of great pain. Last year I received news that a health scare that had me contemplating my own morality wasn’t as serious as I originally believed, only to discover a few months later that a close friend had taken his own life. I have seen my debut novel released, and have had my writing featured on websites run by literary geniuses; only to suddenly suffer from a lack of creativity so stifling that it feels as though there is a weight is pushing down on my chest.

These transitions from success and elation to inevitable heartbreak and failure are cycles of life and death that are occurring within my own existence. I’m not referring to death in the physical sense; I haven’t met my maker just yet. But death in the sense that opportunities, circumstances and relationships come to their natural, or sometimes premature endpoint, so that I can progress onwards to the next.

At first this can be hard to accept. I’m yet to meet a man or woman who enjoys seeing their relationships falter, or who finds solace in watching circumstances and opportunities that they have fought valiantly towards fail. But these deaths are quite possibly the most integral component of the human existence. Without them, how could we ever know the wondrous ecstasy of life and success when we experience them?

It seems ridiculous that it has taken me a decade of moving through these periods of life and death within my creativity before I actually realised the importance of suffering from writer’s block and creative lapses. Without them I would never know just how amazing it is to be blessed with the ability to write in the first place. Unfortunately, I have spent the past few weeks mentally and emotionally beating the shit out of myself for not being able to create anything; when in hindsight I should have used that time to allow the journey that was writing War to come to its natural point of closure, so that the next stage of my writing career could come to fruition.

But angst and self-regret caused by retrospection is the curse of the damned. There’s no point beating myself up all over again for failing to recognise an opportunity to reflect and refocus. All I can do is move forward from here and learn to remember to live, and to die spectacularly at whatever it is that I do.

As for the industry insiders that have told me that my style of writing isn’t palatable, or that I’m not talented, or marketable enough to make it as an author… Their words may have shaken my confidence and caused me to doubt myself at times, but I’m ultimately stronger having lived through their criticisms. At twenty-seven years of age I have a published novel and a successful website which is frequented by some of the most remarkable and passionate people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I have friends and family who are proud of the man that I am, and I’ve beaten depression and found happiness in myself.

My writing might not necessarily be palatable to some; but I’m not only talented, and marketable; I’m a fucking juggernaut too.

75 thoughts on “Memento Vivere – Memento Mori

  1. Wow, what an inspiration. Thank you for this beautiful post. I love your writing, I wish my voice was as clear and poetic as yours appears to be. Unfortunately, I’m still in the early stages of learning. I love it though, even if I stumble a lot 😉 I look forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

  2. Miriam says:

    You absolutely are a juggernaut. And you need to stop beating yourself up. We’ve all had our ups and downs, I’ve had more than I can remember. I’ve won writing competitions, seen my articles published in magazines both in Australia and overseas, yet I’ve also failed at interviews, countless times, being passed over by opportunities and sunk so low.
    But you’re right, we pick ourselves up and we don’t define ourselves by how a few so called “professionals” judge us. Believe in your worth Chris. Keep going, you’ll get through this block, you have so much to offer the world …

  3. Lara says:

    Legend.

  4. “Good enough for whom Eva? Surely it only ever needs to be good enough for you?” says Jim to Eva in The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett – a good point that all us creatives should try to bear in mind 🙂 https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/06/the-versions-of-us-laura-barnett-review

  5. In the midst of your writer’s block, you have produced such a depth-filled essay! Brilliant.

  6. I always enjoy reading your pieces Chris. You are unique!

  7. if writing is truly your passion, then, you will be able to tap into your source of inspiration, and, it doesn’t matter if you’re temporarily at a halt, you can drop your writing, go do something else, and when your inspirations hit you again, then, sit down and write. You should not force those words out of you, instead, just relax, close your eyes, and, let everything come to you slowly, and, i’m sure, you’ll be able to, crank out top-notch work again!!!

  8. You are an incredible writer. I totally get the writer’s block. We all get it. Staring at the blank screen for me and wondering where to begin is my nemesis. Many times I’m worried about who I’ll offend, particularly in my own family. They’re the ones who misconstrue my words most often and can’t see the true meaning behind them. I always write from my heart. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. I 100% agree. I think my best writing remains unwritten as a result of the fear of offending family or being judged by them. It’s a real issue.

      1. It stinks. Sometimes I think I should just give it up but I won’t.

      2. Me too. One day….perhaps x

  9. Fatimah Badawy says:

    The angst that comes from markets and opinions of people with power had to be relegated to a low valued judgment in my mind — and it took a while. I think you’ve articulated the truth behind a writer’s block quite faithfully, and I find them relatively beautiful periods of time, especially in retrospect. When you’re tapping away at your keyboard with creativity gushing out of your pores and you take a moment to remember the day you weren’t in that state, there becomes this familial sensation that fills up the ambience around you and a smile seems to make its way on the face. Don’t despair, write differently for a while then return to your usual narratives or pieces that you’ve been gifted with — when you look back at this post and at this day, you’ll laugh and think it was an eerily good time.
    I wish you the best of luck in all your endeavours. They are amusing challenging little things!

  10. MyHomeIsWriting says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been dealing with several years of writer’s block lately. This was inspirational and necessary for me.

  11. Put your air breaks on Mr Juggernaut and go and stand in front of the mirror. You tell that face things will get better. Like you said, if you don’t go through the difficult times you don’t realise how awesome the good times are.
    Deep breath my blogger chum, it’ll be alright x

  12. I am 73 now and still writing, published a book, had stories published and poetry. I probably will never be famous, but I will continue to write. Chin up, and keep writing. It’s what you do…..:o)

  13. erhynireh says:

    For me, you are a great writer. I always find your posts full of substance and echoes most of my sentiments. I am blessed to have stumbled upon your blog. Cheer up and chin up. Keep on doing what you love doing.

    1. Thank you, I am humbled by your comment. :o)

  14. “If I take away the creative, I’m just aggressive.” – You have made sense of my life in one sentence, friend.

  15. Eileen says:

    You go!
    For everything there is a season……and fallow times are part of the creative process in nature…..why not us? Doing something physical/repetitive/simple even like sorting or organizing seems to be a kind of zen thing for me ..a sort of three days in the tomb before resurrecting.
    Many deaths and resurrections really are part of life, not just the creative process. You took us with you into your whole experience. Well done.

  16. tmezpoetry says:

    Chris, get off the pity pot and just do it because you can. Get out of your head. 🙂

  17. plainmama says:

    Truth for every one of us. Anyone who says they do not have doubts, set backs, self deprecating moments is a fucking liar. I think it makes you a wonderful human. Humility and humbleness are extremely attractive qualities. As you muddle through all the muck your brain creates you have to push harder and will come to shore a stronger person.

  18. cecile53 says:

    About that writer’s block: Rest after work is important, even God took the whole of the 7th day for it 😉

  19. Thank you. I really needed to see this. Sometimes I forget that I have to live through the lows of life to appreciate the highs.

  20. Pitchforkin' says:

    Cracking post that, really enjoyed it.

  21. Wendy says:

    Many great authors, musicians and artists etc. had their work ‘criticised’ – some were ‘before there time’ and their work was recognised many years later. Some have their manuscripts rejected many times… Others rejected by the ‘established publishing world’ go on to self publish and achieve amazing success.

    In life, I’ve learned there are always the ‘negative voices’ and many of those voices are the ones in our own head and that we have the power within us to chuck the voices whether internal or external, where they belong – on the scrap heap!

    Do something different for a short while – stop, take stock and create a Dream Vision Board (info on my site about how to do this.. ) – Dream Big my friend.. x

  22. Sidra Owens says:

    I am in the process of trying to get my first book published. I did not submit my manuscripts to very many publishers or literary agents; because I decided early that I didn’t want my characters to live and die based on what they thought or didn’t think of my work. So I decided to publish it myself. Your writer’s block will fade and based on this post, it seems like you are well on your way to inspiration. Not to quote myself, but “Be the crow,” and you will never go wrong. This post was open and insightful. I appreciate how you poured all of yourself into it. Allowing oneself to be vulnerable is a treasure that many of us never find. I think you’ll be just fine. https://sidraowens.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/be-the-crow/

  23. Chris, your words are pretty much right on mark. Self-recrimination is a demon well-shot of. Loving your last few posts. You’re pretty deep. And your writing reflects a real passion for what you do. I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this, but to me you’re already a writer. Glad you’re coming out of writer’s block and sharing with the world a healthy perspective on how to deal with it. I never heard back from you?

  24. Jet Doyle says:

    Remember to write for you because, honestly, that is the most important thing at the end of the day. And guess what? It’s okay to give yourself a break sometimes and let your mind rest. When you allow it to wander, the muse will snatch you when you least expect it. I can relate as someone who has slowly allowed the deaths of “her different selves”, watching 11 years and three unfinished (and destroyed) manuscripts go by without a publisher. Who knows, maybe the midst of all of this frustration and anger, you’ll find yourself in a place even better than you desired.

  25. To be a writer is to beat yourself up, even when you know you’re talented 🙂

  26. Dwordslayer says:

    This is my inspiration for today,☺

  27. I can so relate. I feel physically uncomfortable when I’m not writing, or even if I am writing and it is writing that doesn’t feel GOOD, writing that isn’t hitting the spot in a fulfilling way. Those bouts of writing block for me, however, have been a reminder to go out and LIVE, to go do something. Usually then I come back with more to write about, for better or for worse!

  28. Perfect, really. I enjoy the honesty in your writing. After all, if it’s not felt it lacks meaning. And there’s nothing more forgettable than empty words. The last sentence is solid gold.

  29. sara says:

    Well, I like the title of this post, and I don’t think you’re a pretentious fraud for using those words. Words are just words, after all. I understand your struggle with the fallow times. We are not taught to honour these times of stillness, so are left to figure it out by ourselves, complete with fear and loathing Hunter S Thompson style. What you will come to terms with, is the acceptance of these between times as not an empty darkness, but fertile blackness, like bone marrow which contains the seed for everything we need, but is by nature formless. We can fight, we can rage, we can push against it, but in the end, we will accept ❤️ we are not creative machines. We must rest, we must replenish, we must do other things, and when we are ready, we will begin anew.

    1. praisegeorge says:

      Sara, I like your response to this post. Exactly what I had in mind. Eve season serves its purpose in or lives. To fight a reason is to lose its significance and impact on our soul and character.

    2. praisegeorge says:

      Sara, I like your response to this post. Exactly what I had in mind. Every season serves its purpose in our lives. To fight a reason is to lose its significance and impact on our soul and character.

  30. Ivana says:

    Don’t ever listen to the bullshit people tell you about how your not good enough. Don’t ever believe it

  31. jimbelton says:

    Even Steve had a bout of writer’s block. He spent months stuck in the middle of “The Stand”, thinking he was going to lose all the worked he’d already done. What saved him was realizing the theme of the novel, the eternal battle of good versus evil. That got him unblocked and created a pretty good dystopian future fantasy novel. He wrote about the experience in his excellent book “On Writing”, which every author should read.

  32. Dev. says:

    Hey, thanks for liking one of my posts! Really appreciate it 😀 Love your stuff by the way, keep it up! Have a great day 🙂

  33. Well, I don’t agree with those literary types and their comments… How are any of their observations constructive?? Your writing is very real, thought provoking and encouraging. A heart-felt blog like yours helps we fragile, often rather insular writers to recognise: ‘I’m not alone’. Which of us hasn’t struggled with the horrors of writer’s block? We draw strength from one another’s struggles (and victories) over ‘the lean, abhorred monster’. (I knicked that from Shakespeare..Sorry, Will.) He was, of course, referring to death, but writer’s block can feel like a rude au revoir from any vital, meaningful life. I encourage you to keep pushing forward, keep writing, keep believing that you have something precious and unique to say. A voice that should be heard.
    By the way, I wrote a piece recently about writer’s block, which you may find helpful. You’ll find it on my word press site: ‘Makes a Nice Day Out.’
    With best wishes from a fellow scribe!
    Alisha Bailie. xxx

  34. sthewriter says:

    Thanks for the recent “like” on my last post. Keep writing, man. I’m glad you’re able to pursue it as a career.

  35. Thank for like one of my post… you are a superb writer one

  36. You’ve accomplished more than many and would not be a writer worth his salt if you didn’t lurch between insecurity and confidence. It’s a sign that you have high standards. Don’t punish yourself over writer’s block. Zen it.

  37. Roos Ruse says:

    Wow. “But these deaths are quite possibly the most integral component of the human existence. Without them, how could we ever know the wondrous ecstasy of life and success when we experience them?” I’ve heard similar thoughts before but only recently come to appreciate your words in relationship to my writing. Carry on, you true juggernaut!

  38. If you write for yourself there is no failure, only fulfilment or learning. Buddhists believe that to be happy we should distance ourselves from the outcome of something. Do it because you must, or, don’t do it. Nothing else matters.

  39. Noémie says:

    Sadly it’s all about marketing these days… The content doesn’t seem to matters long as the branding is there 😦 but you seem to have chosen the path of integrity, which is harder is the short term, but much more interesting in the long term 🙂 you are a wolf, you explore unknown territories and you don’t eat from people’s hands! You don’t do tricks to please and have a biscuit or two 🙂

    A lot of revolutionaries and highly acclaimed musicians, writers and artists were told to give up by professionals in their fields when they first started. A lot of very famous writers were told they were not palatable when they showed the manuscripts of future masterpieces, so take it as a compliment 😀

  40. praisegeorge says:

    You romanticized writers block in your article. You spoke from the depths of your soul. May you find peace as you embrace the good and not so good aspects of being a writer.
    Writing is what I do. It isn’t who I am or what I am about. Writing is an aspect of the expression of my soul. I have gone for moths without writing anything ‘significant’. That didn’t make me feel like a part of me was dying. I simply focused on other areas of my life until I began writing again. I have gone through such cycles for over 20 years and I am still writing. You will learn to do the same.

  41. Tiffany Lacy says:

    Great read. Your writing is inspiring, and here you put into words exactly what I’ve felt multiple times in my life.

  42. dykaneshiro says:

    thanks for liking my blog entry!

  43. thefirstdark says:

    Reblogged this on ReBirth: The Pursuit of Porsha and commented:
    REALLY Liked this.!!! 😜

  44. Safar Fiertze says:

    First, I’d like to say hi and thank you for dropping by today. Secondly, I started reading for the simple reason that I love that wolf photo. Thirdly, once I started reading, it wasn’t long before I was absorbed and at the end pondering what I’d read. I like the journey you brought us through in this post. Initially I started thinking of mantras I’ve used to overcome self-doubt, the small things that I have helped me to write when I begin to believe that I don’t have anything to say, but I found myself sitting back in the closing lines, feeling satisfied. You got there all on your own and you’re going to be fine. The post itself is evidence of writing ability even if that is all I’ve been exposed to so far. But I have a question – why a wardrobe?

  45. Phil says:

    Thanks for your words. I’m also in a bit of slump and your message was one just what the doctored ordered.

  46. This is an insightful heartfelt post. I loved it. Hell, I’ve lived it, in my own ways, for years.
    Self doubt plagues my process, unrelentingly.
    Life – for me – has been about loss: Loss of self, of momentum, drive, passion, loved ones and lovers.
    These grief stricken moments have both fueled and stalled my creative engine.
    Like you, I also write with my heart, not my head. I find the heart produces work we can take pride in and then the head sets about dismantling it…
    For me the real battle has always been within me for the motivation to follow the dream. As yet unpublished I get sooo disheartened by the turbulence in my soul between just giving up and rejoining the working week or digging my heels in for something better!

    So this post means a great deal, and spoke to me. Thank you.

  47. Thanks very much Janna 😀

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