Landscape

landscape

I lie beside her and watch her back rise as her lungs fill with air. She breathes so carelessly in her slumber. She holds her breath deep in her lungs for the faintest of moments before she exhales and her body melts into the softness of the bed. A smile creases her lips as my fingertips graze her shoulders; firmly enough for her to feel my presence, but light enough so as not to rouse the muse twisted between my sheets. Her lips curl so gracefully in the corners, her cheeks dimple in response. This woman, this muse of mine is beautiful; from the crown of her head down to the tip of her delicate toes. And as I lie beside her and watch the rhythmic movement of her breath I can’t help but imagine how glorious it would be to shrink myself so that I can explore every inch of her not as a woman, but as a landscape.

I would start in the small of her back. To my north would lay the bottom most ridges of her spine. Small vertebrae visible beneath the smoothness of her skin, stretching away into the distance until they slip between the rolling expanse of her shoulder blades and vanish beneath her silky hairline. To my east and west her sensual hips arc and curve beneath her sleeping frame. And to my south the gorgeousness of her buttocks rises beneath a fragment of crisp white sheet that is draped across her. Such choices. Such wondrous journeys await me as I discover her beauty inch by glorious inch.

I would move south, slowly venturing to the crest of her round buttocks. I would cherish my climb; pausing to inspect a freckle, or to marvel at the intricacy of a birthmark. Her skin would be so smooth; my calves would ache rewardingly as I journeyed to the summit. I’d stand atop her rear and pull the binoculars from my hip, casting my gaze down the seemingly endless legs that stretch across my sheets. Oh how I would die to walk the length of her luscious legs I would think to myself before realising that in my miniature state I can do just that.

I’d march across the suppleness of her hamstring, descend the hollow at the rear of her knee, and traverse the concave of her calf. My journey would take hours. I’d stop to note pigmentation here, a scar from a youth filled with sport there, until I arrived at her ankle. I’d follow the runway of delicate bone past her padded heel, through her arch until I reach her toes. Her nails would be painted brightly, my footsteps tickling her slightly as I walk right off of the tip of her big toe onto the sheets before journeying across the bed and climbing onto her opposing limb, reversing my long walk back to her buttocks.

My journey would take me across her hips. Her gorgeous rounded hips would be like walking across a beautiful knoll. They’d rise gently from her back and roll across her side before delivering me to the firmness of her stomach. I’d reach her navel and camp by its edge. I’d dangle my weary legs over the edge and I would marvel at the feeling of her stomach muscles beneath her tantalizing flesh.

Rejuvenated, I would journey on to the base of her sternum. I would take my time to walk beneath her stellar breasts, running my palm against their curves before ascending each one to marvel at the loveliness of her areola. My, they are beautiful. Their pinkness so perfect against the whiteness of her untanned flesh; it is so exquisitely her. I can’t help but imagine how my loins would cherish this moment atop of my muse’s chest.

But my travels would not cease, I would venture on to the nape of her neck, and descend into the crevice of her collarbone. I’d track a path across her neck and over the precipice of her jawline until I arrived at her lips where I would plant the smallest, most fragile kiss she had ever received against them. I’d move to her ear and whisper into it just how completely she moves me as the scent of her hair fills my senses. I would move around her hairline and descend her occipital ridge until I arrived at the upper echelon of her spine between the two matching crests of her shoulders.

I’d begin to walk slowly now. More aware that my journey across the luscious landscape of her if drawing to an end. I’d run my fingertips across her shoulder blades and kneel to plant the softest of kisses against her skin. And when I finally arrive at the small of her back once again I would turn ever so slowly to view the beauty of her once more. My eyes would fill with tears. Neither of sadness nor those of joy. But the tears of a man who has witnessed something more extravagant that he ever believed possible. The tears of a man who believes in God, for he has found the true magnitude of his work in the flesh of a Goddess.

But alas, I cannot shrink to such a minute state of being. I cannot worship my muse as a landscape and venture along her supple flesh. I cannot plant those miniscule kisses against her skin, or stand atop her buttocks with a yearning within my soul. But I can lay beside her as she sleeps and watch as her lips twitch and eyes fritter with the makings of a dream. I can hold her tight as she stirs, and tuck the loose strands of hair that fall loose behind her ear as she wakes. I can be hers, and she can be mine.

Space

Have you ever stood at the entrance way to an attic left cluttered and disheveled and thought about just how beautiful the space could be if someone only took the time to clear up the junk, sweep out the dust and make some space? You probably stared across the landscape of dank cardboard boxes stuffed and overflowing with the past, or moved through dusty sheets protecting furniture discarded long ago from the humiliation of a dirty surface. There was probably very little room for you to move. You stepped over boxes, or pushed between stacks of books and piles of sundries from a previous life as a thought settled into the back of your head that this space could be glorious. If only you took the time to clear up the haphazardly discarded contents and made it your own.

Or maybe for you it wasn’t an attic. It could have been a basement; or a storage shed; or another space entirely. No matter how you choose to refer to the room one thing remains constant: it has the potential for beauty, you just need to allow it the opportunity to be beautiful. Clean up the mess, throw out the shit you’ve held on to for too long and you’ve got yourself a space that is all your own…

…That attic is essentially how the mind of a writer, musician, artist or creative individual looks. Or at least that’s how it feels. When you are in the infancy of your immersion into the creative industries you find yourself bound by certain real world principles and responsibilities that can make it difficult to fully embrace your creative impulses. You need to have a roof over your head so you get a job that doesn’t really aid your creative urges. You need to be healthy so you start an exercise program. You want to be smarter or learn how to better hone your craft so you sign up to university or online courses. And of course you still want to have the luxury of a social life so you schedule events into your calendar.

Before you know it you’ve committed the creative man’s ultimate sin and quite literally scheduled yourself out of having the time and space to produce art of any form. You get busy; we all do. But unlike your peers who have to attend to one existence you’ve got two. There’s the regular every day you moving through the actions above; and there’s the creative you who is stuck in a rut desperately searching for a way out.

The inspiration and ideas to be creative don’t stop coming in those times of scheduling nightmare. In fact they come hard and fast, often blindsiding you at the most inopportune of times. You can be in a meeting at work when the ending to a scene you’ve spent weeks searching for suddenly comes to light. Or you’ll be on a date, in the gym, or stuck in traffic when a brilliant idea for a blog post or manuscript settles into your mind. If you’re lucky you’ll have a scrap of paper or notepad on hand to scribble the idea onto. But if you’re not you’re left with no other choice than to pack the idea into a cardboard box and store it in the attic of your mind. You throw it haphazardly amongst similar thoughts and there it sits untouched while you continue to deny yourself the time to create.

Then you inevitably crack. You become disengaged with reality as you yearn to become lost in your own thoughts. People say that they understand. But how can they? They don’t know what it’s like to have an attic full of cluttered ideas. The urge to produce art continues to grow inside of you until you have to step back and re-evaluate your existence and the choices you make. If you don’t you start pushing people away, fucking up at work and become increasingly bitter at yourself for consistently making such poor decisions. You need to clean out your mind. You need to make some space.

So you pick up a box and open it up. There’s a half formed idea for a novel inside. There’s promise, but it’s not great and you know that it’s the wrong time in your career to embark on a project like this. So you take the idea and make some notes in a notepad for another time and place. Then you remove it from your mind completely. In the next box you find a dreadful blogpost that was never meant to see the light of day. It has no purpose in your attic anymore so you set it alight and watch the frail paper blacken and curl. And so you move on and on; compartmentalising the ideas worth keeping, turning many boxes into all but a few. You discard anything that doesn’t feel right or is just plain shit. Before you know it the attic overflowing with discarded thoughts has been swept clean and you can even open a window and allow sunlight to spill in.

The space brings with it a clarity; a sense of clear understanding of who you are and why you fell in love with creative arts in the first place. Your attic is an area that exists solely for you. You can choose to crowd it and watch your creative inhibitions suffer. Or you can periodically clean it out and whittle the ideas and opportunities that you do have down to your very best.

As I grow older and start to realise that I’m no longer a teenager with an acid tongue and an axe to grind, I’m finding myself more and more inhibited by scheduling. I need to work. I need to be healthy. And I need to be social. But if I continuously try to find time to write and ensure that I prevent my mind from becoming cluttered then when I do manage to put pen to paper it will be the very best work that I can produce. I mean, there’s twenty four hours in a day; no matter how busy I am surely I can devote at least one of those to doing what I love.

Day 57

For a blog that is supposedly about writing I’ve noticed that I don’t spend a great deal of time actually producing articles specifically for writers or even aimed at the craft itself. While many writers and authors have created wondrous platforms where they write about self-publishing, grammatical structure, or establishing an audience, I have taken a different approach to this site. It’s an approach that I believe is more important to my own creative journey than producing pieces on growing an audience or the likes. Here at Renegade Press through postings of wolves, broken windows, floods and catastrophes I have created a space that is uniquely my own. In this space I can be vulnerable, arrogant, aggressive, creative, and above all else it’s a space where I can be free to express myself creatively.

I’m not knocking those who choose to write posts that are logical, well thought out, and coherent; I actually admire many of those writers and follow their sites. I’m merely suggesting that the idea of producing such posts doesn’t really feel right for me. I’m too erratic in my thought processes and not yet accomplished enough in my craft to be handing out writing/publishing advice to anyone.

I’m a dog chasing cars. Or more accurately a literary wolf chasing fragments of ideas through the shadowy contours of my mind.

One such idea was to change the way I see the world. I’ve forever been known as narcissist and a bit of a prick so on January 1st 2015 I decided to focus on sowing seeds of positivity into my mind rather than allowing the oppressive weight of hate to rest upon my heart as it had done for years. The experiment came around after I read an article detailing a study released by the European Journal of Social Psychology on creating habits in which the researchers suggested that the average time it took for someone to adopt a new habit was sixty six days. It sounds easy enough doesn’t it? Practise optimism for sixty six days until it becomes so ingrained in your mind that you’re constantly searching for the positive in life rather than brooding over shit that’s outside of your capacity to control.

So how have I found the experience?

Well, at times I’ve struggled with remaining positive. There have been a few moments where I’ve gnashed teeth and threatened to break someone’s nose or flown into a verbal tirade of expletives. At one point over the past two months I even found myself hell bent on returning to my former state of perpetual hate as a means of rousing myself from a momentary creative slump. But for the most part I’ve remained upbeat and embraced life and my fellow man with a vigour that surpasses any I have ever had before.

I’m now at day fifty seven of my experiment and I’m actually stunned by what I have managed to achieve during this timeframe. My altered mindset has seen me embrace new concepts and ideas and abandon much of the narcissist bullshit that was hindering my progression as a writer and a man. I’ve started reading a more varied series of blogs and texts, re-enrolled in university after a hiatus, and have even started developing a social media presence through Instagram. In addition to this I’m continuing to grow more tolerant of people and have stopped being an arsehole just for the sake of it. This openness of heart and mind has paid huge dividends as my debut novel Midas is now available on Amazon, my followers here at Renegade Press is now five times what it was on January 1st, and people are starting to see me as something other than a insensitive dickhead with an axe to grind.

All of which is overwhelmingly positive. The experiment has been an overwhelming success, but as I draw ever closer to the climax of my sixty six days I’ve began asking myself where do I go from here?

Publishing my novel actually left me a little dazed and confused after the goal I’d toiled away at for close to a decade suddenly came to fruition and I’ve kind of struggled to reignite my motivation to create and understand where my career as a writer is headed next. But now I’m starting to put together another series of goals that will consume my existence and with my new mindset I believe that I can achieve them. I’ve got the world in front of me and even though I have quelled my arrogance somewhat, I’m still egotistical enough to believe I can achieve anything.

On day fifty seven I have set my sights on grandeur and excellence in my field. As I begin penning my way through a follow up to Midas as well as continue to work on a myriad of alternate scripts I’ve also set my sight on becoming a name synonymous with modern day literature. It’s not an easy feat to accomplish; nor should it be. I aim to inspire but I also aim to challenge myself at every opportunity. So while I have a incredible amount of work to do just to begin to become well-known in this industry, I feel that just by knowing that someone is reading this post I can say that I am already on my way to achieving my goal.

Here I stand at day fifty seven with the world in front of me.

Mask

‘I tried to be human, but humans all lie.’

– Zachary Britt

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I have an obsession with masks. Ever since I started writing I’ve unintentionally created characters that shield themselves from the world and have been fascinated with the idea of mystery. It all started with Renegade; a story about a masked vigilante murdering men and women he considered to be a burden on society. From there it progressed into tales of plague doctors, cloaked gangs, and faceless men whose features never see the light of day. Even Midas has a character whose face is hidden beneath a gasmask and never exposed to the reader.

I used to believe that this obsession with concealing one’s face came from a love of comic books. I’ve long been a huge fan of characters like Alan Moore’s Rorschach or V, and even more mainstream heroes like batman. But now as I grow older and maybe just a little wiser, I’m starting to realise that my fixation with masks has less to do with a love of superheroes and more to do with the fragility of my own psychological makeup. It appears as if I have some repressed identity issues that continuously arise through my writing.

Whoa. Let’s slow down a second so you can wrap your head around that one…It’s an idea so obscure that it will undoubtedly cause you to frown in bewilderment: a writer with identity issues? Who would have thought imagined such a thing!

Sarcasm aside, I’ve suddenly found myself on my seemingly endless journey of self-discovery staring at a series of masks I use to conceal my true face, wondering why I feel the need to veil myself. All I’ve ever wanted was to feel human and to connect to a world that often baffles me. I’ve yearned to be able to reach out and touch the heart and soul of my fellow man and woman. I’ve longed to be able to understand their thoughts, feelings, and compulsions. All I wanted was to be human so I created a series of masks that would allow me to do so. There’s only one small problem: humans lie.

We lie because we are fallible. Because without the imperfections of our deceptions and defamations we as a species couldn’t be as beautifully flawed as we are. It’s our idiosyncrasies and emotional shortcomings that make us perfectly imperfect and allow us to flourish. But those same eccentricities that make us so incredible can also be dangerous to our creative health and our soul if left untouched. Yet many of us choose to abandon the wondrous features that are all our own in an effort to conform and fit in. As I stare at my masks mounted on the wall of my den I find myself bewildered that the façades I’ve cultivated to seem normal are identical to the disguises worn by my peers. Normal doesn’t exist. We’re all exceptional in our own right, yet for some misguided reason we try to diminish our worth to become part of a crowd.

Imagine the surprise on the face of the wolf hidden beneath a veil of human flesh when he learns that not only is he not alone in his masquerade, but that he is identical to everyone else in his attempts to become at one with the world!

For me my identity issues are pretty easily defined: at the age of eighteen I chose a path seldom travelled and decided I wanted to be a novelist. I spent eight long years fumbling my way through an industry riddled with pitfalls and no clearly defined route to success. While my friends started trades or completed university degrees I wrote manuscripts, submitted them to agents and publishers and awaited an opportunity to break into the industry. There has never been a definitive beginning or end to my journey so over time I grew self-conscious of the fact that while I struggled to create a career out of my passion others around me prospered. People would ask me what I do for a job and I’d feel a piece of me die as I told them, adding “but I also write novels” on the end in an attempt to validate my own inadequacies.

But then something remarkable happened and my story was picked up and put into print (it’s available now on Amazon!) and I started to realise that I no longer needed to lie about who I was and what I wanted to be. The masks that I’d spent so long constructing and masquerading before the eyes of my peers suddenly appeared gaudy and unnecessary. After eight years of lying about who I am and begging for acceptance (a process that often saw me fall into fits of aggression and angst) I’ve now learned to embrace myself and see that I was never the only one lying in a desperate attempt to feel accepted.

Sadly some people will never feel comfortable enough in their own skin to remove their masks and allow their face the opportunity to breathe. They are forever doomed to suffocate underneath the weight of their own inability to accept just how perfect their flaws actually are. They’ll spend an eternity with mask so perfect but a mind so bitter and a heart so broken because they’re desperate to appear cool or feel accepted. The crazy part is that by doing so they’ll unintentionally deny themselves the opportunity of being just that. They’ll lie to themselves and say that they’re more beautiful when concealed beneath a thin façade of self-deceit while the rest of the world yearns to see the pureness of their soul unveiled.

After eight years of writing I’ve decided that I’m always going to have an affliction for masks. I will forever find beauty in the savage imagery of a plague doctor or a hacktivist wearing a Guy Fawkes mask fighting for what he believes in. But I’ve learned to remove my own. There’s no point in trying to be human by way of hiding my humanity and imperfections behind a false exterior. Freedom comes from being prepared to let go of your inhibitions and accept the beauty of your flaws. To be willing to freefall into yourself is the most human thing you can ever do.

No man hidden behind a mask can ever achieve such a wonderful feat.

Silent Orchestra

You may have noticed that a sudden lull of activity has fallen over this site in the past couple of weeks. My postings were becoming more frequent, more concise, and increasingly positive. I was writing like a one man orchestra. I set a pace and flow by waving a baton rhythmically before my eyes as posts of positivity and tolerance followed a percussive beat like a drum. My self-reflection rose like a melodious crescendo of woodwinds and strings, before tapering off in a diminuendo as I offered peace to an intellectual foe whose opinions challenged my own.  Talk of hustling towards a dream crashed like cymbals and a new perspective on life threaded everything together with the solidarity of brass.

Then came the silence; so abrupt that the absence of sound was deafening.

It’s happened many times before on this site. I’ve written and produced, gaining thunderous momentum before falling off of a precipice and into a void of nothingness. In the past when such an event has occurred it was due in part to self-sabotage. Whether deliberate or not, I’ve had a nasty habit of destroying everything that I’ve strived so hard to create. At one point I even wrote an article calling for my own self assassination of character as a means of fuelling my own destruction. But this time things are a little bit different…

…I have been busy. And I have been keeping a secret from you.

Want to hear it? It goes like this:

I signed a publishing agreement and I’ve been ensuring that the work I submit through to my new publisher is the very best writing that I can produce.  Yep, you read that correctly. After about eight years of half-hearted attempts at trying to become a published author I did the unthinkable: I refused to give up, worked my arse off and actually managed to achieve something grand.

The recent silence; the one that’s seen a complete lack of activity on this site since January 20t.; it doesn’t symbolise the drawing of curtains on my short lived orchestra of positivity. Rather it’s an intermission; a moment’s reprieve to pause and reflect on every success and failure that has led me to this point before the orchestra of the wolf transitions from protasis into epitasis and the fun really begins.

It’s a bold statement to make. To suggest that I am finally moving beyond the beginning of my writing journey after eight years of toiling away at manuscripts and failed attempts to become an author seems both bold and daunting. From the very moment I started writing I dreamed of being published, so when I signed my publishing agreement I felt this strange mixture of elation and despair race through my chest as I had one of those where to from here moments.  I’d become so focused on achieving that one objective that I’d failed to see beyond that. I had no plans of where I wanted my journey as a writer take me past that initial act of seeing my work in print.

So my page fell dormant, and the orchestra of the wolf fell silent as I prepared my manuscript for publication and sat in contemplation at where I was headed next. Even now I still don’t know exactly what direction my career is going to take. I’ve been toying with numerous ideas for new projects and have been offered a few opportunities to moonlight on various blogs and websites. On top of all of this I’m still anxiously awaiting the day my novel hits bookshelves across the globe. But I want to make one thing very clear to my readers; the silence that has fallen over this site in recent weeks has passed. I’ve picked up my baton, breathed my heavy sigh of relief, and am now preparing to ease my audience into act two.

Watch this space. The world eater in me just tasted success and my one man orchestra is preparing to give audiences across the globe a performance they’ll never forget.

The New Black

Two nights ago I went to a hardcore show. I stood in the front row of a mosh pit surrounded by hundreds of sweat soaked fans thrashing their limbs and surging towards the stage and banged my head to bone crunching riffs and rip roaring screams. The venue was small and cramped, insanely hot and packed full of tattooed bodies and booze. By the time the concert was finished my body was drenched, my clothing smelled like the armpits of a dozen moshers mixed with a copious amounts of alcohol, and my lungs burned and throat ached from screaming lyrics at the band. Yep, it was a good night.

The next day was a bit of a struggle. I had a mild hangover despite sweating out a few litres of alcohol, but I guess you have to take the bad with the good don’t you?

It’s no secret that I’m heavily inspired by music. So much of what I do as a writer is influenced by the bands and artists that I am listening to. When I want to write dialogue I listen to gangster rap and hip hop; when I want to create emotion I draw upon ballads and folk; and when I want to write a good smash mouth scene I turn to metal and hardcore.

While there is a never ending monologue of musical musings inside my head, today’s post is more about the artist than the art of music itself. As I watched Keith Buckley of Everytime I Die throwing himself around a wearing nothing but a pair of cut off shorts and sneakers, screaming his lungs out I couldn’t help but feel inspired. Here was a man who could have cared less whether there were ten people at his show or ten thousand. You’d paid for a ticket, you’d earned his respect and he was going to give you the best damn show you’d ever seen.

As my blog and my writing continues to grow in notoriety I find myself being contacted by more and more readers and writers who want to reach out and offer their perspectives on my work. And I love receiving the feedback regardless of whether it is positive or negative. It’s a truly rewarding experience to know that something I have produced has affected someone so much that they feel inclined to reach out and contact me. Seriously, even when someone sends me an email to say that they hated my latest post or that my vulgarity taints my work, (a common occurrence) it’s a great honour to know that they care enough to interact with me.

Recently however a reader asked me to define what I meant when I said that I wanted to be a successful writer/author. They stated that there is a difference between being a successful writer and being a great one. Great writers are rarely successful, and successful writers are rarely great. And although it was probably meant as an off the cuff remark, the idea has been eating away at me ever since. I’ve been asking myself if I want to be great, or merely successful. Do I want to produce a masterpiece that struggles to sell a few hundred copies? Or do I want to produce a palatable script that earns me millions?

My initial answer: I want to be great.

Don’t get me wrong, earning a million dollars would be pretty spectacular. But I find it really disconcerting that I automatically equate the idea of being successful with a monetary figure. Why do I think that unless I climb the best seller’s lists and earn a fortune I will be a failure as a writer? In fact I’m going to go one step further and ask you why do we as a society see monetary gain as the pinnacle of success?

It seems like a dangerous flaw in the mindset of our society to measure success through materialism and fiscal gain, yet here I am in the infancy of my writing career already defining my accomplishments as a writer through this fashion. There’s a plethora of directions in which this post could progress from this point. I could start flying off on tangents about our consumerist culture or the way in which materialism has replaced the more intrinsically rewarding release of dopamine in our brain when we achieve something we long for. But I’m going to keep it simple and say this: true success isn’t about possessions; it’s about passion and feeling. When you move away from fiscal wealth as a marker for success, you can achieve that seemingly elusive goal of being both successful and great at what you do.

Take Keith Buckley for example. As he sweated his heart out on a stage in Brisbane, half a world away from his American homeland, money had no effect on his performance. Sure he would have been paid for his show, but the extent of his success came from being able to take to a stage and do what he loves: perform. In that moment he was both successful and great.

It’s taken some time, a little soul searching and a few change of hearts, but I think that I’ve finally managed to answer that damned question that has been bugging me. I want to be successful and great. At this stage of my career success is defined by having a work in print or in engaging a reader to such a degree that they reach out and make contact. Money plays no part in measuring my achievements right now. I want to create beautiful literature and I want to share it with the world. If I can do that then I’ll be achieving everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Maybe someday when I’ve punched out a few novels and carved out a bit of a niche for myself in this industry that idea of success will change, but right now I can honestly say that being great and touching my audience is more important.

So while I can’t sing to save myself. Meaning that I’ll probably never know the feeling of having a crowd of sweaty fans chanting lyrics back at me, I can continue to engage my audience enough to want to connect with me. Which I figure that’s the novel writer’s equivalent. It may not quite as punk rock as thrashing my tattooed body around a stage, but in my opinion it’s still pretty badass.

Sowing Season

Have you ever noticed how in times of need humankind turns to phrases and expressions to justify their emotions or the circumstances that they find themselves caught in? We utter such clichés as everything happens for a reason, or what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, and countless other little phrases to get us through a tough time. Even when everything in our life is going fantastic we try to pigeon hole the experiences afforded to us by saying I’m so blessed right now, or that my hard work is finally paying off. It seems as though we as a species need this validation of our thoughts, feelings and experiences. We appear to almost struggle to function without being able to justify every moment of our life through spoken and written word.

Sometimes it seems as though no matter what the circumstance, there is an expression ready to be recited in an effort to inspire, motivate, and aid you in overcoming it. Personally I love that mankind is so determined to understand itself. I’m even more thrilled that it has chosen spoken and written word as the vessels through which it seeks that understanding. My dreams of being a successful author would be all but screwed if we were more comfortable in taking the world and our experiences at face value. Without this thirst for knowledge and understanding there would be no writing, no art, no music, or creativity in general.

However, these expressions that we are so willing to affix to our situations can be dangerous. Too many are submissive and allow us as a species to flounder and fall short of our true potential. Shit happens. Yeah it does, if you’re prepared to let it.

Let’s back track a bit. This whole post came to fruition because of an article I recently read which detailed a study released by the European Journal of Social Psychology on creating habits. The study followed ninety six people over a twelve week period, during which they determined that the average time required to develop a habit was sixty six days. I found the article incredibly intriguing; the study suggested that through conscious implementation of a new movement or thought pattern for sixty six days it would become so ingrained in one’s subconscious that it would inevitably become habit. Being the inquisitive person I am I decided to take this idea give it a shot. I picked an expression that I could relate to and aspired to make a change.

You reap what you sow. At least that’s what I have been told. So I decided that for sixty six days I would sow nothing but seeds of positivity and determination into the fabric of my life. I resolved to cut the negativity from my soul and instead focus on finding the silver lining in every situation. I sat at my computer and I punched out articles of hope rather than angst, I stopped actively trying to cripple people and instead focused on being a better version of me.

The result? Well right now I’m on day eighteen of this little experiment and so far things are looking pretty damn good. I’ve been running this blog for a couple of years, amassing a somewhat decent audience of followers and likers to my sporadic ramblings. But with focus, positivity and determination I managed to double my readership by day eight. By day twelve I tripled it. And just today I received some exciting information that I can’t wait to share with my readers.

That’s not to say that the experiment hasn’t had its moments. I’ve nearly cracked a few times and reverted back to the narcissist arsehole that used to run this site. I’ve upset a few people close to me over the past three weeks, and to those that I have I truly am sorry. I love you to death and although I will undoubtedly slip again, with your help I will forever strive to be a better person.

You reap what you sow. Perhaps one of the most overused expressions of all time. But for this writer truer words have never been spoken. I’ve spent years walking around with clenched fists and a mind fuelled by rage, searching for my next victim. During that time all I have found is resistance, unhappiness and despair. But after just eighteen days of positivity and focus I’ve achieved more than I ever did during those times of shame. When you’re sowing seeds of hate or submission into your life, you’re going to reap resistance or dominance from life itself. But when you open your heart, free your mind and start sowing positivity the payoff is so much more rewarding.

As a writer you spend your entire life trying to create something new; something fresh. And at times in can become difficult to prevent yourself from falling into the trap of clichés. There’s the old Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch theory that states that there is only seven basic conflicts in literature, and to consistently try to think outside of the box and create something fresh and relevant can be exhausting. Add to that the fact that oftentimes you’re also trying to avoid drawing reference to clichéd expressions and you can find yourself walking an intellectual minefield of potential story ruining one liners and plot points. But as a man or woman who seeks to find enlightenment and their path in this world those same clichés can offer hope and guidance. You just need to pick the one that works best for you.

Shit happens to those that let it. But you reap what you sow. Sow shit and it’ll come back tenfold. Sow seeds of love, tolerance, determination and positivity and your crop will be more beautiful than you ever thought possible. We as human beings are forever going to subscribe to these expressions and clichés; but it is up to us as to how we draw inspiration from them. If you want to be submissive then you can continue to recite your tired adages of acceptance. But if you want to be the best damn person you can be than subscribe to a viewpoint that inspires. You reap what you sow. So chose your crop carefully.

Wolf

‘Hate must weigh on you like a broken cross.’
-Sam Carter.

I think that I’ve finally figured myself out. After twenty six years of screwing around and pissing away my talents and time I’ve finally started to realise who I am, who I want to be, and how to bridge the gap between the two. It’s a bold claim to make. But 2015 has started out so strongly that I feel confident enough to say that I, Chris Nicholas, am finally starting to become the man I was born to be. I’m merely scratching the surface of my true potential, but I’ve finally found the direction, determination, and hunger that has been lacking from my life for a long time.

When I look back at the history of this blog it’s clear to see that for a long time I was a soul in turmoil. Struggling to find my place in this world I bounced between short bursts of positivity before sinking into extended bouts of depressive entries and angst. From a technical perspective, the writing wasn’t great. From a mindset perspective, the pieces were even more troubling. I thought that it was funny to push myself past breaking point when trying to produce something of quality, finding joy in destruction, elation in woe, and my writing suffered greatly as a result.

My personality has evolved greatly over the past twenty six years; before I started writing I was incredibly shy. I’d struggle to talk to a cashier when buying milk. I’d keep quiet in group situations, and couldn’t even imagine plucking up the courage to ask a girl out on a date. But I found confidence through literature. Writing gave me a way to express myself. It was a means to unlock that vault of pent up rage and emotion in my heart and release. But for a time I went too far. I underwent a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde like transformation and that shy child turned into a bitterly aggressive teen.

I would refer to myself as a wolf, and relish in the opportunity to offend or maim. I wrote to ward off my own inner demons, and I’d take aim at anyone unfortunate enough to cross my path. I had this insatiable lust to be different, to fail to connect with my peers, and to rip the throat out of anyone I could. At one point I even went as far as to call myself literature’s version of Alistair Crowley, bathing in the blood of my victims. My writing in this time was poor and disjointed in its construction. My success as a writer during this phase was non-existent. And in all honesty I was undeserving of any acclaim. Who wants to read dribble from a whiney little bitch?

I’m a pretty aggressive guy. I’ve always had a short fuse, and I probably always will (even though I’m actively trying to become a more tolerant man I did recently threaten to break someone’s jaw). But I’ve reached a point in my life where I have released the contents within that vault of rage and I no longer see a need to savage everyone I come into contact with. I’m still a wolf. And I’m still prepared to bare my fangs and tear someone limb from limb if need be, but I’m no longer wasting time hunting for conflict. Life’s too short to get bogged down in unnecessary shit, and I’ve got too many goals I want to achieve to waste my time in fruitless endeavours. I spent so long filling my heart with hate, and all it did was weigh me down. When you carry the broken cross of hate all you have to show for your troubles is loneliness and the stooped shoulders and fractured spine of heartache.

So then now that I’ve found this happy medium, and I’m beginning to understand the enigma of me, who is it that I actually want to be? I want to be a writer. I’m pretty sure that is blatantly obvious at this point in time. But I want to be more than that. I want to have a positive effect on the industry as a whole. I want to create great texts and inspire others to consume literature of all forms. I want to educate, as well as continue to learn. I want to inspire and be inspired. And most importantly I want to be a man; not the macho dickhead type, but the kind that transcends beyond such limitations and becomes one with the world.

Knowing the path that I wish to walk is a start. I’m no longer simply stating “I want to be a writer” and waiting for the universe to drop a publishing deal in my lap. I’m starting to formulate a plan of attack to make that dream a reality. Acknowledging my temperament means that I’m growing; when this blog started I never would have envisioned that I’d be writing posts concerning homosexuality or Islam. Yet I find myself drawn to such topics not because I necessarily identify with them, but because I’ve found myself living in a world where there is so much beauty repressed by the ideals of man that to not draw attention to matters of the heart or mind would be a travesty.

My point is this: as far as I know I’ve only got one shot at this crazy thing we call life. I don’t know what happens when it’s all over, but I do know that the time I have is a precious thing and I need to cherish it. When the curtain draws, or the screen fades to black I don’t want to look back and think about all the time wasted being overtly shy, or unnecessarily bitter. I want to look back and say that I gave everything I had to being the best writer and man that I could be.

I recently had a stern reality check where a stranger I had never met contacted the organisation I work for regarding the death of her partner. They had fallen in love at the age of sixteen and spent their lives together until he passed away aged seventy one. They spent fifty five glorious years together before he passed, and in her mourning she was contemplating suicide. The thought of a life without the only man she’d ever loved was too much for her to bear. I suddenly found myself listening to this woman as she bared her soul and expressed her desire to give up. She had the pills left over from her ailing husband in her home, and no reason to continue on.

I don’t work for a suicide prevention or mental health organisation, but here I was helping someone come to terms with a loss that was so much more severe than anything I had ever dealt with. By the time we finished talking she had realised that as painful as it would be to live without her husband, she would continue to do so. Because there is nothing in this life more beautiful than life itself. The call ended and I put down the phone knowing that we would never be in contact again. I’d never hear how her life changed from that moment on. Never understand exactly how she felt knowing that she was strong enough to move forward. But I did realise that I have so much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to.

I know my path; I know the difficulties that lie ahead of me. But I also know thanks to a stranger on the other end of the phone line that there is nothing between where I am now and where I want to be that I can’t overcome. I’m no longer a shy little boy, or an overly aggressive teen. I’m a writer, a man, a wolf and a world eater. For the first time ever I’m accepting my strengths and weaknesses and focusing on where I want to be rather than maiming those around me.

Hustling Lady Luck

‘Stop wondering and start acting, stake your claim. They say there’s no place for you here, so you better make one.’
– Jason Butler.

As a writer you get asked some truly bizarre questions. People expect that your interest in literature means that you’ll know who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 off the top of your head. Or that you’ll know the title and word count of Bryce Courtenay’s fifth published novel. Or sometimes they’ll ask what inspires you, or to name your favourite author. Or they’ll ask dreaded what’s your book about question; where they expect you to summarise an entire manuscript in one sentence.

There’s a myriad of inquisitive questions that the general public throw at you in an effort to better understand you and your process. Even though sometimes you’ll look the fool when you state you’ve got no idea what novel Courtenay published fifth, or that you can’t realistically summarise your own work in one sentence (they’re not after a pitch, but rather an entire synopsis crammed into one compact, easily digestible sentence), you really enjoy the fact that you’ve plucked someone’s interest enough to ask. Those questions mean that you’re on your way to achieving your dreams. You’ve captivated someone’s attention.

But there is one question that leaves you feeling frustrated. One question that you get asked time and time again by people who are genuinely interested in your story, but who fail to understand the complexity of what you are trying to achieve:

When is your book going to be published?

That one question can come in many forms, but essentially what it does is hit you like a sledgehammer and cause you to feel like a failure or someone who hasn’t quite made it. The worst part is the person asking isn’t trying to make you feel this way. They are genuinely curious as to when you’ll be published. They like what you’ve told them, or what they’ve read from you before, and they want to be one of the first people to get their hands on your work. What they don’t realise is that you’re busting your arse to try and make that happen, it just isn’t as easy as they think.

See, these people, these adoring fans of your work, see the literary industry like they would any other. They view the transition of an aspiring writer to published author as linear. To them the process goes:

You decide to write a book. You write a book. You publish your book, and spend the rest of your life swimming in piles of money like Scrooge McDuck.

If only it was that simple. I’d forego the piles of money and live like a damn beggar if it meant that my work was published so easily.

The truth is that the transition from aspiring writer to published author looks a little more like a spider’s web. You write your script, send it to an editor; it bounces between the two of you for some time as you refine the work. From there you start seeking agents, you customise and individualise query letters for each agent and send them off. Then you play a waiting game, you wait for your talent and a little bit of luck to pay off. You sit on your hands for a few months, penning your way through a few other pieces, hoping someone accepts your work. Most agents don’t respond, a few write generic rejection letters, and maybe one decides to further review your work.

When an agent says no you start all over again, thus your spider’s web begins to take life. If they say yes you most likely edit again before your agent begins to market you to publishers, leaving you waiting yet again for that talent and luck to come through.

There’s no linear progression on your journey, you’ve got to thrash out your own path. For me that means working a full time job, studying (something I often neglect), and finding the time to write this blog, pen manuscripts, and hassle agents. It’s a delicate balancing act, and one that I’ve been trying to perfect for years.

When is your book going to be published?

I haven’t the faintest idea. But when it is finally put into print I’ll know that all the hard work and hustling was worth it.

In my previous post Ready, Set, Misfire I stated that my goal in 2015 was to see my work put into print. It’s an insanely ambitious and somewhat ambiguous goal that in some respects is outside of my control. I can’t hold a gun to the head of an agent or publisher and force them to accept my work, but I can work myself into the ground in an effort to make sure anyone who can make my dreams a reality has a copy of my manuscript on their desk. I can continue to write on this blog and haggle others for opportunities to write for theirs, and I can learn how to market myself more successfully. Fortune favours the bold (excuse the cliché), so there’s no point sitting around waiting for someone to waltz up to me and offer me a publishing deal. I’ve got to chase down my dreams and make them happen.

Luck will always play a huge part in determining whether or not an agent or publisher accepts my work. But as I continue to hustle more agencies, and convince publishers to view my work, the less I am relying on lady luck and more on talent. 2015 is all about making a place for myself in this industry. It’s about hustling, destroying the map and redefining what it means to be a writer.

Ready, Set, Misfire

New year

Have you ever looked into someone’s eyes and wondered just why the hell they love you as much as they do? You question why they support you through all of the mistakes that you’ve made, all the opportunities you’ve missed, or people you have offended. Well, today I asked myself that question as I left my family’s home in Coffs Harbour and drove the five hour commute back to my rental in Brisbane, marking the end of my holiday season. I sat in my car and I waved goodbye to my Mum and Dad and watched the way that they looked at me and my heart broke. These two people have given me everything they possibly could in this life, busting their arses throughout my junior years to provide me with an education, a roof over my head, and everything else. Yet all I’ve ever done to repay them is purchase questionable Christmas/Birthday gifts and embarrass them by running my mouth or failing to follow through on my dreams.

Yep, here comes one of those 2014 in review posts in which I, the writer, wrap up my successes and failures over the past twelve months. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite achieve everything that I’d hoped for.

See, every single New Year’s Eve I get drunk. And when I get drunk I get a little lippy. And when I get lippy I start telling anyone who will listen that in the next twelve months I will have my manuscripts published. Twelve months ago I underwent that ritual, and while I’d like to say I gave my dreams hell, I still managed to fall a little short. This year I continued to produce entries on this blog, had my work featured across a number of websites, met agents, publishers and authors in New York City, and shook hands with a Duke. I finished a manuscript, and commenced two more. I even managed to piss off a couple of religious fanatics who tried to deface my blog but subsequently drove huge numbers of people to this site, making it ever more successful (Oh well, at least they tried).

But I also had my fair share of failures. I ended a long term relationship, destroyed the career path I’d been on for four years, and buried friendships. I drank (a lot) for a period of time in order to suppress my feelings of heartbreak, inadequacy and failure. And I fell agonisingly short of finally achieving that damned goal I set every New Year’s by actually seeing my work in print.

All in all, I’d say that I had a pretty solid 2014. I achieved a hell of a lot for a twenty five year old writer, but as I drove away from my parents I still felt as though the entire year had been a bit of a misfire. When I write I have a number of catalysts for doing so. What started as a means to overcome the demons that dwelled within my soul quickly became a way to produce stories I wanted to share with the world. And now as I grow older and my parents do the same, I write because I want to make them proud of their son; the same son who has a penchant for pissing people off and failing to follow through with his goals.

So as I drove away from my family’s home and felt a tear of regret slide down my cheek for all of the missed opportunities of 2014 I resolved to push myself harder than I ever have before in 2015. It starts with this very post: here I am on New Year’s Day, hangover free and determined to stop pissing away my time. Over the next twelve months I will chase down my dreams and I will do anything I possibly can to break into the literary industry. There will be misfires and there will be times when I fail, but if I keep focused on who I am and where I’ve come from then I’ll finally make it to where I ultimately want to be.

My parents raised four beautiful kids who owe them the world. It’s time to give it to them.

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