Sometimes this thing we call life can be a real fuck of a thing. We as humans can move from moments of pure elation to moments of sheer terror and uncertainty in an instant and our whole lives can turn on a dime. We travel through life as though we are racing towards something important; some kind of elusive goal that is always just out of our reach, and we rarely ever stop to live in the moment and realise just how lucky we are to be alive. By living in the moment I don’t mean going out dancing in a night club or curling next to your significant other underneath a blanket. Those things are great, don’t get me wrong. But I mean truly living in the moment and understanding just how wonderful it is to be who we are, where we are, and who we are with. Continue reading “The Writer & the Fighter”
Bench Players & Flowerbeds
As an aspiring author there are times when it feels as though you’re sitting on a bench in a school yard with your peers watching as the cool kids stand in front of everyone and pick teams for a game of hoops. You sit patiently with your hands in your lap, knowing that you’re all but a sure thing for an early pick. Everyone knows that you can play with the best of them. Sure there are people on the bench who can steal or block better than you, some can even hit a three pointer over a defender better than you can. But you’re consistent; you work hard, and are a solid all round performer who on any given day can showcase a stellar effort of skill, and most importantly, determination.
The cool kids start picking teams, you’re not their first choice but that’s alright. You don’t mind if someone else nabs the coveted number one pick, as long as you are eventually recognised for your talents. But the picks keep coming and the decent players all take sides and you suddenly find yourself seated on the bench with a bunch of ballers that aren’t fit to step on the same court as you. Ok you think. Here it comes, there’s no way that I won’t be chosen next. All that hard work you’ve put in honing your skills are about to be rewarded. The next pick comes, but it’s not you. It’s one of the fucking desperados sitting beside you; a guy that you know you can run rings around on a bad day. The move blindsides you. What the fuck just happened? What could possibly compel someone to bypass you when you are clearly the most deserving? Then the picks keep rolling and suddenly you’re sitting alone staring up at a team you really deserved to be a part of wondering what the hell went wrong.
Writing is often a harrowingly lonely process that is seldom filled with the kind of human interaction that our species so feverishly craves. As an aspiring author you spend hours honing your crafts, pouring through novels or text books, devouring poems, films, music and manuscripts as though watching the playoff performances of your opponents. You admire and you aspire, but at the same time a yearning to better them at their own game fuels a hunger inside of you that sees pens scrawl in frantic cursive across notebook pages or fingers tap relentlessly against keys. You learn everything there is to learn, you find faults in your craft through your constant examination, and work harder at perfecting what you do until you know that if you were given the shot, given the opportunity to enter your own playoff game, you’d blitz the competition and leave behind a legacy that will outlive you.
But still you find yourself stuck on that fucking bench. It seems like no matter what those cool kids calling the shots just won’t put you in the starting line-up. You’re the best damn writer there is and some fucking shmuck in a suit whose job it is to make or break an artist won’t take a gamble on you because there’s something different about you. There’s an unfamiliar element to your game that he fears to throw his support behind no matter how much his gut tells him that you’ll succeed. Your writing is different, brutal, unpolished, offensive, or not marketable. That’s not to say that it’s not good, but it just doesn’t fit inside the preconceived idea of what he is after. So instead of choosing you for his team and giving you the opportunity to run those assists or hit those deep three pointers, he chooses a safer option with less talent. Publishers and the cool kids are often terrified of the unpredictable or the truly unique, so they ridicule or overlook, passing up the opportunity to inspire greatness.
In this dilemma of the aspiring writer/baller lies a rather pressing question. Do I sell out and play it safe? Do I create a manuscript or a set play that lacks all real creativity and is devoid of any of the intricacies that make me who I am in order to be pulled off of the bench and into the starting line up? Or do I continue to be myself. Do I make the plays or the manuscripts that the team and the publishing industry don’t necessarily want, but that they truly need and deserve?
During my lifespan as an aspiring writer I have met many others just like me vying for the same ultimate dream of seeing their work in print. And in my time I’ve noticed that some of the greatest writers that I have met have been the ones most ridiculed or ignored by their peers. Oftentimes these men and women create pieces that are so beautifully unique that many fail to comprehend just how incredible they actually are, and although the author truly deserves to find recognition for what they have created they ultimately fail where others with lesser talent but larger lungs succeed.
I used to get upset when this happened. I’d kick and scream and tear my fucking hair out that someone so undeserving could be given an opportunity when another so talented could be left begging. But lately I’ve been thinking of the publishing industry in a different light. Maybe it’s not like a game of hoops at all. Maybe instead this whole crazy industry is more like a flowerbed. The cool kids are actually gardeners and the reason that they are picking other author’s over me (or anyone else truly deserving of success) is that they need to line the bed with a nice thick layer of shit before anything of substance has a chance to grow.
Dancing with Madam Anger
I think I’ve made a mistake. In fact, scratch that. I know that I have. Somewhere along my journey towards becoming a better writer and quelling the demons that plague my mind I’ve turned myself from a bubbling cauldron of angst and anger into a fucking robot that is devoid of any emotion whatsoever. It’s where I always thought that I wanted to be; a head space where I feel no anger, fear, frustrations or disappointment. But unfortunately it seems as though it is all those things that make me the man and the writer that I am, and that I’ve always wanted to be. Recently I couldn’t help but notice that as my apathy for everyone and everything around me flourishes, my ability to write and create subsequently diminishes. Lately I’ve been thinking that it’s time to cast aside the whole sensitive new aged guy bullshit and start to embrace Madam Anger and all the wondrous gifts she bestows upon me.
The very concept of embracing the darker impulses of my heart does run incongruous to almost everything I have ever written on the walls of this blog. Yet over the past couple of weeks as I’ve risen at the crack of dawn only to stare at a perpetually blank page on my laptop, I’ve come to the startling realisation that I’m simply better off when I’m angry. As an emerging writer everything that I have ever produced has been dripping with passion and anguish, yet in my desire to overcome a battle with depression I deliberately removed all forms of these delicate muses from my psyche, leaving behind a barren wasteland where emotion and creativity once roamed.
I now understand that my mind is like a delicate ecosystem inhabited by every thought and human emotion that it creates. When all of these thoughts and emotions work in perfect harmony my mind flourishes and my writing follows suit. My urges and impulses form the sediment that allows everything to grow. And my thirst for knowledge forms beautiful saplings that pierce the surface of my mind and reach towards the sun. The sun itself is made up off all the positivity that I strive to produce on a daily basis. Then, in order to balance out my peacefulness, my darker thoughts are the heavy rains that lash across the landscape. But just like the rains that lash the earth, these sometimes torrential storms are a necessity for the ecosystem. Without the rains all creativity would die.
Which leads me to ask me what the fuck was I thinking when I tried to remove such an integral part of the ecosystem that is my mind? In hindsight I should have realised that everything in life must be balanced; that without sunshine and rain working in relative unison, everything would fall apart. I took away the negative rains of my mind, and allowed the overpowering rays of positivity to rape the earth until all that remained was scorched and uninhabitable. Then, when the land was devoid of life I stood in the damaged sediment and wondered just why nothing could be created there.
So, without further ado; here comes the fucking rain.
At first thick droplets fall around me, splashing against the scorched earth, their individual strength unable to penetrate a crust as hard as this. But then, as the rains fall harder and I goad my mind for more, a figure materialises through the storm clouds in the distance. She moves closer, gliding across the earth’s surface with a step as delicate as her fine features. Madam Anger has arrived to aid me through this storm. We stand in relative silence, watching the rain falling around us before she invites me to dance. So I take her and hold her close and we move to the orchestra of thunder crashing loudly overhead. We sway and waltz, our movements always in time with the rise and fall of the orchestra’s crescendos, allowing the rains of anger and frustration to wash over us before falling to the desperately thirsty earth.
Our footsteps crack the earth’s surface, and the raindrops slip inside. And before I can stop and gasp, the first inklings of saplings arrive. So we dance around in circles, leaving behind a trail of fresh footprints teeming with new life. And after what feels like hours of dancing, I can now see that my mind shall survive. But the rains begin to pass, and soon the storm subsides. I stop now and stare out at all that Madam Anger has created, and release her from my grasp. She sweeps her hair behind her ear and smiles at me through crooked teeth. The once beautiful apparition that danced until life returned has faded; replaced now by her true form as a hideous hunch backed dame. I stand and watch her fade away, chasing the storm from my mind. Before I turn towards the earth with wonder and behold all that Madam Anger has left behind.
The idea here is not to return to my days of never ending anger and angst. But rather to embrace the idea that I can control the darker impulses of my mind and use them to fuel the creative fires of my soul. I don’t want to be angry anymore. That part of me is gone. But I’m also very aware that without Madam Anger I would never be able to write or continue to grow as a man. I’m throwing caution to the wind and abandoning my quest to turn myself into an emotionless robot. Instead from now on I have vowed to feel all that my life has to offer. Anger, angst, love, success or failure; my writing and my life needs all of these and more to survive. I understand now that within the microcosm that is man there is a macrocosm of emotions that we must experience in order to feel alive. So before I dance off into the sunset with Madam Anger once more, I would like to take this opportunity to let you know that I will be in touch again soon.
Mona Lisa & Centerfolds
We’ve been on a pretty good run for a while now. You and I have been plodding along through the previous few blog entries with a sense of optimism and a spring in our step. We’ve talked about catalysts that have reignited my inspiration to write, and how the past twelve months have served to alter the usually depressive and angry perceptions of yours truly. But as you know all good things must come to an end. And despite my optimism there is still a scorned writer seething within me. So now it’s time to open up and let my inner-arsehole shine. Today for a change of pace we’re not here to talk about writing; we’re here to talk about the slow decline of the human race into a world where men who deserve nothing more than to be punched in the mouth are allowed to prosper.
But before things spiral out of control we better back up a little; I’m not punching anyone just yet. However I am going to let off a little steam about an issue that has been bugging me for a while now. You see, in many respects I’m your typical young man. I’m twenty four years of age and have girlfriend that I adore; and come hell or high water I will stand by and support her. But unfortunately as of late I’ve been exposed to a seemingly endless string of fucking dead-shit men who find it acceptable to belittle and degrade women. It’s absolutely mind boggling as to the level of sexist shit I’ve been exposed to lately. And the fact that I as a man am offended by the level of sexism I’m witnessing serves only to highlight the degrading manner in which some men perceive women. Seriously, what the fuck happened? Was there some kind of memo that was sent out to all men that stated that it was suddenly alright to treat women as second class citizens that I missed?
I grew up in a good home. My old man was a police officer and my mum worked in a catholic school, which meant that respect was something that was instilled into my siblings and I from an early age. You respected your peers, your parents, your teachers, and authority figures. But most of all, as a boy and as a man, you respected women. The greatest lesson that my father ever taught me was that a woman is a man’s equal. He taught me that to degrade women in any way, be that physically, emotionally or otherwise was a most heinous act and it’s something that I’ve carried with me through my teens and into my twenties.
Which is why I find it alarming how many young men nowadays are consistently treating women (their partners or otherwise) like pieces of shit. Men the world over objectify women in the vilest ways and base their judgement on attributes that are only skin deep… I can already hear the rebuttals coming from some of you reading; that man is carnal by nature. And as such our basic instincts are animalistic and urge us to procreate and objectify. But unfortunately in this male’s opinion that piss-weak excuse went out the window centuries ago when man first decided to differentiate itself from the animal kingdom on an intellectual level by developing little things like cuneiform and the spoken word.
So where the fuck does some little piss ant get off thinking he has the right to talk down to a girl or demean her to his peers? We live in a world where women play an integral role in all facets of society, and to attempt to undermine their value based solely on their genetic makeup is about as open minded as saying that all Australian’s are beer swilling hillbillies, or that all African-American’s excel at basketball. What I’m talking about here is straight up sexism; I’m an honest guy, so if I think someone is a dick based on their personality or moral traits I have no problem with telling them regardless of their gender. No, what I’m saying is that I can’t stand the close minded bullshit from my fellow men that inspires comments about women belonging in domestic roles, or having a lower perceived worth or opinion based on the fact that they don’t have a set of nuts between their legs. But above all of this I have a particular distaste for men that objectify women in explicitly sexual manners.
That’s not to say that I’m a prude. I love a crude joke as much as the next person. And in many respects I’m your archetypical young man, I love and admire the female form, and am lucky enough to have found a woman who in my opinion is beyond desirable. Ask me what I think about my partner and I’ll tell you that she’s beautiful, that she’s sexy; but I will not enter into any discussion that demeans her on a sexual level. It’s a simple concept really… She’s my Mona Lisa; a piece of artwork that I stand back and admire. I’ll tell you that the Mona Lisa is beautiful; it’s a marvelous piece of art. But it’s not some cheap centrefold from a porn magazine. Meaning that I’m going to tell you how much I admire it, not how much I want to fuck it.
But could this be the problem society now faces? Have we taken our artworks, or women, who deserve to be put on pedestals and stripped back their worth and objectified them to a degree that they are now considered to be as valuable as nudie magazine? Is this mindset of carnal lust and our desire to blur the lines between art and sex what has lead us to the point where men view women as beneath them? The truth is that this theory may be partially to blame for my fellow man’s objectification of the female form. But unfortunately some of the blame does fall back onto the shoulders of women themselves for this conundrum that we see before us. You see, there’s an old saying that says behind every great man stands a great woman; which thanks to Laozi’s wonderful ying-yang theory would suggest that the opposite must also be true. Behind every chauvinistic fucking cunt stands a woman who for one reason or another is prepared to accept the degradation of her character by a human being with the below average emotional intelligence to match the below average size of his dick.
But regardless of how or why this sudden re-emergence of sexism has been allowed to enter my life I will say this: any man who demeans anyone based on their gender is a coward. Any man who feels that they are in some way superior to women due to their physical strength or misconception of their own importance as a half-witted fuck. And any man who wants to dispute any of this is more than welcome to let me know. Just be prepared that if you do so, you will get punched in the mouth.
The penny finally drops…
I have a little confession to make. It’s nothing too outlandish or perverse. It’s more of a simple fact that I’ve been neglecting to inform you of for a while now, and I’ve decided that it’s probably best that I come clean…
While I do study at University, up until two days ago I hadn’t actually stepped foot on campus for almost twelve months. Sadly I’m not one of those kids fresh out of high school that can live off of cask wine, water and two minute noodles; and therefore can forego entering the workforce in favour of their studies. I’m an average Joe with debts to pay who needs to work in order to survive, which unfortunately means that my studies often play second fiddle to my source of income.
Thanks to that crazy little thing called money I’m forced to complete my studies via correspondence. Or to be more specific: since my course isn’t actually offered as a correspondence degree, I am enrolled to attend lectures and tutorials. I’m just that name who is perpetually absent when the role is marked. It can be incredibly hard to maintain motivation this way. It’s often easy to simply forget about study when you aren’t actually attending lectures, and I’ve become quite skillful in the art of procrastination when it comes time to hit the books. But nevertheless I’m still plugging away at my degree with the hopes of actually completing it sometime in the next decade.
Thanks to my affliction of cynicism and urge to despise everything, I’ve always considered university to be a bit of a wank. And for a degree in creative writing it really is. How can an institution like a college, school, or university teach creativity? How can they realistically sit down and effectively measure the success of a course or degree based primarily around the inner thought processes of an individual? And if they are able to do so, how the fuck can they grade a story, poem, essay, or whatever on its creative merit? There’s simply too much room for subjectivity involved in the creative aspect of the course for it to ever be effectively managed by any one institution or individual. University in my eyes has always been a place for those of us who want to be teachers, or doctors, or engineers. And the only reason that I ever ventured into a course in creative writing was because I thought that it would help buff up my creative portfolio should my work ever reach the desk of a publisher.
But two days ago, two very strange things happened and suddenly I have changed my tune on the whole university ideal. It all started when around lunchtime at work when I checked my course program for one of my subjects and realised that I’d managed to mix up the due date of an essay, learning that it was actually due two days earlier than I had anticipated. Thankfully I’d completed the essay already and decided that I could simply drop off the assessment after work rather than post it in like I usually would. So, that evening at seven thirty, after a full day of work (and one of the most half-arsed workouts ever seen in a gym) I found myself trudging through the university campus for the first time in twelve months.
In my sweaty black t-shirt, basketball shorts, and runners I wasn’t exactly dressed for my triumphant return to campus. But nevertheless I raced across the sprawling lawns of the uni and cut through the maze of stone buildings, submitting my assessment in person. And there it was. Strange occurrence number one; I, Chris Nicholas, was actually at university. But that was just the beginning; my little endeavour onto campus still had one more surprise in store… With nothing else to do I began my walk back to the car park, once again weaving through the maze of stone before walking out across the sprawling well-manicured lawns that I’ve come to view as synonymous with my campus. And then, at that very moment, as cold grass crunched underfoot and the lights of the nearby sporting fields illuminated the dusk, the penny finally dropped and I understood why university’s offer creative writing degrees.
It’s not because they can teach creativity; in fact it’s often the exact opposite. A university lecturer or tutor’s mind is limited by their own creative impulses and anything outside of what their mind can perceive is considered to be foreign and frightening, or even wrong. No. Universities offer creative writing purely because they can provide a place of wondrous inspiration, filled with not only the great minds of the student and teacher alike, but also with an incredible beauty that truly has to be seen to be believed. They offer a place of limitless possibilities and inspiration that any writer worth their salt can draw upon to create brilliant literature.
The thought hit me like a freight train, causing me to take a few dazed steps before I finally stopped to take it all in. Here I was lost in my own thoughts for the thousandth time that day, thinking about a subject I’d pondered endlessly for three years, and suddenly a clear and concise thought had risen from the murky depths of my mind’s eye. I’d spent the last twelve months avoiding attending campus for the most ludicrous of reasons. I’d told myself that I hated the classrooms, the tutors, and the kids in my classes with purple hair, top hats and trench coats. When in reality the thing that I’d always hated about university was that I didn’t understand why I was there. I’d failed to understand the purpose behind my degree. I’d failed to see that there was more to what I was studying than just a course profile and a grade point average. My own inability to appreciate that something could offer more than what it appeared at face value had left me jaded and bitter.
Two nights ago I stopped and stood on the lawns of my university campus and breathed a heavy sigh of frustration, mixed with a twinge of hope as I stared out across the brilliance that learning institutions have to offer. I was frustrated at myself for leaving it so long between visits to an establishment that is costing me thousands of dollars to be a part of. But I was also hopeful that this new found affection for something I had detested for years might just see me actually turn up to my classes next semester. So with that I quickly jogged back to my car, climbed inside and drove off, staring back through my rear view mirror at an unlikely catalyst for a new found inspiration to write.
University & that slut called addiction
I think I’m suffering from some serious withdrawals from writing lately. I’m edgy, my sleeping patterns are out of whack, and I seem to be holding conversations with the various voices in my head more often than usual. It feels like forever since I have put pen to paper and crafted something imaginative to help quell my unrelenting impulses to create. But for once my lack of writing, and subsequent feelings of edginess aren’t coming from writers block; rather this is the end result of the fucking university degree I struggle so valiantly to complete.
Studying a degree in creative writing should mean that I spend the vast majority of my university life creating whimsical metaphors for the human existence, or reading through paperback after paperback produced by authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Orson Wells and so on. But instead I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks reading through lecture notes on theories by Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, and fucking Moretti in preparation for an upcoming exam. It’s been a gruelling endeavour. Until now I’ve actually enjoyed my studies. But this… This has been torture.
So what have I learned through all this reading? What have I managed to retain from constantly devoting my time to such pieces? Well…. I’ve retained next to nothing. All I can tell you about the aforementioned names is that I now despise each and every one of them with a passion that would lend brilliantly to any manuscript. But despite my new found loathing of literary theory, I have managed to learn two things.
The first is that out of all of my time devoted to understanding the works of Marx I have managed to find just one single snippet of his writings enjoyable. It’s something that I found quite inspiring, and after trawling through so much work on literary criticism and critical theory, unearthing this diamond in the rough that has made the experience worthwhile. The second thing I’ve learned however has been more of a self-realisation and awakening; a buy-product of time spent toiling away at my studies. I’ve learned that I could not care less about the critical theory behind what, and why I write. All I know is that I love to do so and that is all that will ever matter to me.
The edginess? The lack of sleep? Those are the foreshadowing’s that I’m operating under the charms of that slut called addiction. When I don’t find the time to write I become like a junkie searching desperately for his next fix. I grow irritable and the spill over of my frustrations becomes evident in other aspects of my life. I become short with my peers and can seem disinterested in the world around me as I withdraw into my own imagination. As I write this I’m staring down the barrel of my last week of study for this university semester. I have nine days until my final assessment for the study period will be submitted and I can dive back into the writing that fuels me, rather than the drab critical theory laden bullshit I produce to pass assessments. I feel like a child waiting for Christmas morning, when the wait of advent is over and the presents finally arrive. My present will be the ability to return to writing what I want to again, but with each passing day the agonising wait for this semester to end seems to drag on forever. I’m growing edgier and more unstable with every passing moment; all I want is to throw caution to the wind and start producing something creative again.
I’m desperately waiting to slip back into my manuscripts and continue the development of characters I’ve come to hold very close to my heart. But in the meantime I just have to push through and finish out this university semester and take solace in the fact that I have managed to find that little quote from Marx that makes it all worthwhile. So in closing today, I’d like to leave you all with that quote. Read it, and interpret it as you see fit. Maybe you will, like me, see the beauty in Marx’s words. Or maybe you’ll gain absolutely nothing from it. Regardless, if it wasn’t for this single phrase, I don’t think I would have been able to survive the hellacious thirteen weeks that has been this semester.
As always, I promise to be in touch soon.
“The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it.” – Karl Marx.
Year one: Creating a masterpiece from disaster
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost twelve months since I first ventured into the world of web-logging; peeling back the thin façade that I had been hiding behind and exposing my depression to the world. In that time so much has changed in my life that it’s almost impossible to track the winding path that I have trekked since then. Amongst other things, I’ve written manuscripts, completed university assessments, relapsed into depression, moved home twice, ventured overseas, destroyed friendships and forged new ones. Yet somehow along the way I’ve managed to hold myself together in an unprecedented fashion and actually learn a little bit about myself.
Last year when I started this blog I was just a boy struggling to fight off my own demons and establish myself as a writer. Now twelve months on so much has changed, yet my basic catalysts and compulsions remain the same. I am still that struggling author trying to establish himself as a man; yet now I have learnt to use my demons as motivation for success rather than the instigators of my own destruction. Although some of my posts have ventured away from my new found positivity and exposed the lingering inner demons that still plague my mind, I believe that this blog has helped me to better understand myself and forge a confident new writer and man. So while sometimes this page can read like the sound of animals fighting as those lingering demons battle it out with the better angels of my nature, I can’t deny the earth shattering effect this blog has had on me.
As I write this latest entry my manuscript for Midas is in the hands of a publishing company undergoing a final read through and some entry level marketability tests. It’s a stage that I have reached before with another manuscript; so while being beyond excited that my work has been deemed worthy of reaching this level of the publishing process, I’m still trying not to look too far into the opportunity just yet. The process could take another couple of months to complete, which in essence means that I am now destined to spend the next few months shitting myself every time I receive an email or a phone call from an unknown number. I am however, extremely honored that this particular company has bestowed this level of stress upon me. With the stress comes the possibility that my work will make it into print. And at the very least it’s a sign that everything I am doing as a writer is not in vain. It’s a sign that if I just keep plugging away at my craft I will eventually produce a manuscript that finds acclaim. That could very well be Midas, it could be my love story, or Renegade, or any one of the hundreds of ideas that I have in my head and scribbled down on various notepads hidden around my home. It’s all just a matter of time.
And that’s the thing; time is really on my side here. At just twenty four years of age I am still considered exceptionally young in the writing and publishing industry. Many authors spend decades honing their craft before they find critical acclaim or see their work in print. And many face constant rejection by those they aim to please; their eventual success is a result of their never say die attitude. So while sometimes it can be hard to pick yourself up off the floor after having the figurative shit kicked out of you and your script by an agent or publisher, that’s exactly what needs to be done in order to taste success.
But to me success isn’t selling a million books and becoming a household name. To me success is simply seeing my work in print and having the opportunity to affect just one person’s life through my words. Unfortunately for my beautiful partner writing is, and always will be my (other) soul mate; which means she will forever be battling to drag me away from my computer or to pull my nose out of a book. In the depths of my depression, when the light at the tunnel sounded like nothing more than a vicious lie designed to inspire hope, my passion for reading and writing became the catalyst for my change. My decision to reach for the stars came from my desire to write and create. This blog, Midas, and every manuscript I have ever produced became the very things that helped alter the course of my life, taking what would have undoubtedly ended in disaster and turning it into a masterpiece of triumph. To be afforded the opportunity to be the inspiration behind someone else’s journey towards their dreams, or even to create something that someone finds intriguing and engaging is how I will always view my success as a writer.
It will be months before I have a final decision on Midas from the publishing house currently testing it. And in that time I’m sure that I will become a racked with anxiety and feel sick every single time my I receive an email or phone call. But even if I don’t succeed, even if this is as far as I get this time, it will still be a success in my eyes. I’m still a better writer and a better man than I was one year ago when I started this very blog; and that’s all that I could have ever asked for.
There’s blood in the water….
And the sharks are circling. Or at least that’s what it feels like every time a writer of some notoriety brings out a new novel. This week will see the release of Dan Brown’s latest novel Inferno; a novel that continues the story of his most famous character to date Robert Langdon. It’s a story that will capture the attention of the world and draw much needed attention to the world of creative writing and literature.
We live in a world where everything has an expiry date of five minutes and with each passing generation the onus and importance placed upon literature and knowledge diminishes. Mankind has grown lazy and the thought and effort required to enjoy the intricate world of words means that many choose to avoid the art forms of reading and writing in favour of watching. So as an avid reader and writer it fills me with a sense of excitement when a novel can capture the attention of the world and draw it back towards the industry that I love. On top of this I’m also a little bit of a Dan Brown fan. His novels aren’t the most technically savvy affairs, but their smooth flow and catchy storylines are always engaging and easy to devour.
But it seems that not everyone is as fond of his novels as I, and many others are. A few days ago I was scrolling through a Facebook advertisement for Brown’s novel and was a little shocked at some of the vicious remarks that had been left behind by a bunch of talentless fucks trolling the page. Trolls really are the scum of the earth aren’t they? They’re often sorry pieces of shit who are so bent out of shape by the fact that someone else has the talent and the balls to strive towards their dreams that they feel the need to attack and degrade them. I’ve been exposed to trolls before; as I am sure that everyone has. In this day and age of social media they are everywhere, spreading hate and animosity like wildfire from the safety and comfort of their keyboards. But nevertheless, I was still a little shocked that even my beloved world of literature was tarnished by a bunch of arseholes who need nothing more than for someone to kick their fucking teeth down their throat and teach them a little humility and respect.
The negative and scathing posts towards Brown’s body of work was extensive, ranging from comments about his style of writing to the more alarming personal attacks such as accusations of homosexuality. They were your stock standard slurs written by intellectually devoid knuckle-draggers that couldn’t construct a decent insult if their life depended upon it. But amongst the childish profanities and piss-weak taunts was one comment that caught my interest. It said…
‘This is a disgrace. I know REAL writers, STARVING writers who would be so upset by this.’
It got me thinking; what is a real writer? And by what instrument can we effectively measure whether or not someone stands up to the criteria of being real? Is it the man like Brown who has achieved success and now writes the novels that he wants and enjoys to create? Or is it the man toiling away at his manuscript so desperate for success that he is literally starving himself for his craft?
The truth is that a real writer can be both. A real writer is anyone who enjoys the process of creating something beautiful, ugly, dangerous, or extravagant with words. Every single man, woman, or child who puts pen to paper in the hopes of creating anything is a real writer; there’s no such thing as a false or pretend one. So where the fuck does some dead-shit troll get off accusing a man who has achieved his dreams of not being a real writer? And why would anyone else be upset by his success?
It was at this point that I started one of those long and in-depth conversations that I have with myself on a regular basis where I weigh up my opinions of mankind and decide whether or not I have lost all faith in humanity yet again. I debated the concept of real writers from both perspectives; that of Brown’s and that of the Troll’s. And in the end I came up with an idea for those negative pieces of shit who go out of their way to break down others via the internet or otherwise. And here it is: Shut the fuck up. To all the keyboard warriors out there I urge you to take your hands off of your keyboard and take a moment to reflect on just how much of a sad fucking prick you must be if you constantly feel the need to go out of your way to destroy others.
Take me for instance; as a twenty four year old male I wasn’t ever going to be a huge fan of novels like Twilight or Fifty Shades. I’m not their target audience and frankly the authors probably don’t care if someone of my description loves or loathes their work. And while I have no issue in stating that I’m not a fan to my friends during the course of conversation, I would never go out of my way to actively search for fan pages of these franchises and attack the authors for their hard work. So why do so many others feel a sense of entitlement to do so? In fact why do these people believe that anyone actually gives a fuck about their opinion in the first place?
Sadly the answer to these questions is this: these people troll because by doing so they feel better about the fact that their own lives are less than perfect. They troll artists like Brown because they believe that by doing so they will somehow feel better about themselves. Every time a writer puts pen to paper they open up their heart and allow it to pour into the ocean of critics waiting to judge them. They spill blood in the water and watch as the sharks start to circle in a vain attempt to eat them alive. For many the sharks do manage to sink their teeth into the writer and drag them beneath the surface, destroying their hopes and dreams with their vicious remarks. But for a few select writers of Brown’s caliber they somehow manage to tread water and fight off the sharks circling menacingly around them. They learn how to overcome their critics and transcend beyond the meaningless remarks of the jealous and misinformed.
As a writer I will always be my own toughest critic, I will always assess my strengths and weaknesses and force myself to work harder. Encourage myself to become better. Implore myself to grow. And hopefully by doing this, by constantly breaking myself down and reassessing every aspect of my work, I can instill a confidence within myself that allows me to overcome the jealous and misinformed trolls who will undoubtedly attack me when I succeed.
So to all of the trolls out there I will say this in parting: until you yourself have produced something of equal or greater quality to that which you are criticizing (as assessed by your peers), then you really need to learn to shut the fuck up. It’s better to be considered the fool than to open your mouth and prove it beyond all doubt.
A misguided tale of romance
I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front as of late. But my absence isn’t because I haven’t been writing, rather I’ve been funnelling so much attention onto my other projects that I’ve struggled to find time to develop and post anything of substance onto this page. So, in keeping with the feel of my last entry I thought that I would offer you another little glimpse into the crazy and convoluted world that is my mind’s eye.
I would like to present to you a (very raw) snippet of my first attempt at creating a love story. As you can probably remember, a little while ago I wanted to branch out and try something new and exciting, and even though the characters I have created are far from what I would deem appropriate of a conventional tale of romance, I am still falling in love with them every single time I develop their stories. So here it is, a very brief, very raw, unedited snippet from what is quickly becoming my misguided tale of romance:
She slips back into her leather chair and smiles at me from across the desk, her hand twitches ever so slightly and I catch sight of a vein in her neck pulsating as she resists the urge to reach for the hand sanitiser positioned underneath the off centred computer screen on her desk. I should be concerned, offended even; I certainly don’t look like the leper she’s imagining before her. But rather than outrage I feel a hardening in the front of my pants as my eyes trace the V-neck of her blouse.
I’ve never held much interest in women older than myself; I’ve typically always looked for women closer to my own age. But maybe I’ve got some kind of fucked up fetish with woman in power. I did always think that my high school math teacher was pretty damn sexy.
She must be at least forty five, which would give her twenty one years on me, but dressed in her suit and makeup she has managed to knock ten years off her appearance, making that huge age gap seem just a fraction less heinous. Her lipstick and fingernails are a matching red, which blend in perfectly with the subtle layers of foundation across her cheeks, leaving them blemish free. Her body is slender and lithe; a gym junkie’s frame is clearly visible even under her navy suit and crisp white blouse. But it’s her huge breasts and the off coloured tan of her right hand’s ring finger that garner most of my attention, just as they did last time I met Victoria Whistler.
The boobs are new; courtesy of a top of the line plastic surgeon who appears to have done a fantastic job. Judging from the way they are pressing against the fabric of her blouse I’d say that they have dropped, which means that they were probably done anywhere from six months to a year ago; around about the same time that her husband left her. She looks like a strong woman, or at least she’d like to think that she is; which means that she probably kept wearing her wedding ring for a month or two after he ran off into the sunset to fuck the shit out of a woman half her age. Which is why the off colouring remains; she had worn the ring for so long that even after months of absence the slight discolouration of her skin remains after being shielded from the sun for however many years.
‘Congratulations Mr Miles,’ she says with a smile that pulls me back to the present and makes me realise that I’ve just psychoanalysed the living shit out of the poor woman before she even had a chance to open her perfectly proportioned lips. ‘Today is a very special day for you, as I am sure that you are aware there is a trust fund that was set up in your name before your parents passed away some years ago.’
She knows that I know this; she told me last time we met when she had knocked me back on a ten thousand dollar personal loan because I was a down on my luck student trying to make ends meet. That had been three years ago, and ever since then I’d been stuck in a state of perpetual frustration over an account in my name that I was refused access to until I turned twenty four.
Twenty four; what kind of random fucking age is that anyway. My parents had passed away when I was twelve, at the time I was too young to understand just what mechanical failure meant, but when my grandparents took custody of me and sued the living shit out of the local auto-mechanic I assumed that he must have fucked up pretty bad. I’d never really known my parents all that well, my father was a banker like the alluring Veronica Whistler before me, and my mother had been a struggling writer. Together they had been the shining example that opposites really do attract, and were supposedly happy right up until the day that their sedan’s brakes had failed and they’d plunged off the side of a mountain.
Thankfully I had never turned out like my father; that’s not to say that I’m not good with money. Shit, I spent four years studying at university, I can give a whole new meaning to the term ¬shoe string budget, my arsehole is tighter than a nun’s. But I had never developed my father’s interest in all things finance, instead I had thankfully wandered the same path of life that my mother had, toiling away at manuscript after manuscript in an effort to become a published author. It’s not an easy life, and one that isn’t readily marked out for me to follow, but I think that if I had turned into a male version of Miss Whistler here I probably would have blown my fucking head off years ago….
So there it is; a brief look at my terribly misguided attempt at a love story. It was always going to be more Imperial Bedrooms than The Notebook, but so far I’m happy with the foundations I’ve created for my tale. I’ll be in touch again soon…
A nostalgic look back at a young writer heading north.
It’s been a week or so since my last post, and unfortunately I’m still stuck in the same funk that saw me lose sight of myself and unleash a verbal attack on the publishing industry. My writer’s block is taking over my life, and I’m struggling with a severe case of apathy towards everything and everyone. As I’ve said before, the writing process is sempiternal and I am continuously moving in waves of highs and lows as I strive towards my eventual goal of having a novel published. But today for something different, I’ve decided that rather then fly into another bout of misguided rhetoric, I will take you back in time and present to you the piece of work that saw me win the 2011 Heading North Young Writers Competition.
The piece you are about to read is one that I never imagined would warrant the affirmation of my peers. The idea was conceived whilst standing at a reception counter at my work watching the sun rise at 5:30am through a thin window. I had been in a bad place for a few months and was wallowing in the depths of depression. At just twenty two years of age my body was exhausted from working and studying fulltime and my mind felt as though it were fracturing in two. I spent about half an hour creating the short-story, instead focusing all of my attention on an alternate piece that I submitted to university (and was slammed by my tutor for producing). Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this story would be first time that I ever saw my work in print… Nevertheless, I present to you Moonlight & Prison Bars…
The sliver of moonlight retracted slowly across the dusty floor of his cell, climbing walls covered in flaking grey paint before disappearing from sight. He had been waiting all night for this moment, watching the silver beam of light cast from the heavens as it filtered through the iron bars fastened across the window. This morning in the yard he had seen clouds on the horizon, felt the subtle south westerly breeze scaling the fence and blowing gently across his skin. He had known then that rain was coming; he could smell it in the air.
He craned his neck and caught sight of the clouds concealing the moon, their once greyed edges illuminated as the moon reflected light from its counterpart half a world away. He heard a soft tapping as the first raindrops splashed against the dried dirt of the yard. A drop landed near the windows and the mixture of dirt and water splashed against his face, startling him. He twisted his body and edged his shoulders through the bars, extending his arms out into the cool night air, pressing his face against the cold iron as the smattering of raindrops became a torrent. His arms were soaked in seconds, cool droplets cascading over his skin, wrapping around his sinewy fingers, muscles, and tendons before free falling to the earth below. His face was sprayed with continuous flecks of water, reminding him of the feel of the ocean spray blasting across his skin as he sat on a surfboard watching lumps of swell roll beneath him.
He closed his eyes and pressed harder against the bars, his cheekbones aching against the pressure. The constant spray against his skin felt magical, and he ran his tongue across his lips remembering the taste that the saltwater used to leave there. He could feel the pitch in the pit of his stomach as his board lurched over the lip of the wave and he rose to his feet, feeling his fins catch as he bottom turned and set his line for the barrel. The lip rose up over his head and he tucked his frame inside the wave and felt time slow. He could hear his heart beating above the sound of the wave smashing down against the shallow sandbank, his eyes constantly roaming the green wall of water ahead of him. The wave began to slow and he emerged from the barrel and sunk the rail of his board into its wall, sending a huge spray skyward before he whipped off the back.
Opening his eyes against the rain he felt his stomach sink. It had been so long since he had felt saltwater against his skin, but he could still remember it so vividly. Like it was yesterday. His mind raced away from him again, and he felt the warmth of his own tears grace his cheeks between the never ending torrent of raindrops. He had never been much of a drinker. Alcohol had never really held any prestige in his life.
Thinking back now he wasn’t sure why he had decided to drink and drive that night. He didn’t think. It was as simple as that. The image of the young woman bouncing off the bonnet of his truck as he mounted the curb played through his head almost as vividly as his memories of the ocean. He had pulled over and tried to help her, he had done everything that he could. But she had broken her back and had haemorrhaging on the brain. He looked at his hands again, soaked with rain, watching as the individual droplets lost their translucency and transformed into a scarlet red before falling to the earth. He pulled his face away from the bars and watched his bloodstained hands with horror, just like he had after an innocent bystander had died in his arms.
Moving away from the bars he sat down on the edge of his lumpy mattress, listening to the unending torrent of rain as he stared down at the dusty concrete where the slivers of moonlight had shined in the not too distant past. He belonged here. He knew that. And it was selfish of him to miss the ocean. It was selfish of him to feel as though he was the victim. He was a monster, and an idiot. His decisions had killed an innocent woman who had been waiting for the bus. His only solace was that she had been alone. He couldn’t remember how many times he had driven past that particular stop when it was standing room only.
He sat for hours, his eyes never once leaving the floor, his ears twitching in response to each raindrop as it fell against the earth outside. He watched and listened as morning arrived and the rain eased. He waited until the thin slivers of sunlight filtered between the bars, glistening off a pool of tears drying on the concrete before he lay down on the lumpy mattress and rested his eyes. Licking his lips as he drifted off to sleep he tasted not of the ocean, but the gritty taste of justice. He belonged here for what he had done. He had told the judge that himself. He had taken a life and this is what he deserved. Even so, as he drifted off the sleep in the morning light he imagined himself running down a grassy headland, leaping into the ice cold water and paddling towards the point.
So there you have it. An entry into a competition that saw me taste success before my writing journey careened off course and ground to a halt in a cacophony of personal shit. Now two years later I look back on what I created with a sense of nostalgia. In the past two years my writing has improved tenfold, so much so that I found it difficult presenting the piece as it was back then. Each time I put pen to paper my skills develop and I grow ever more confident in what I produce. Moonlight & Prison Bars was my first published work, but with a little bit of luck it won’t be my last.