Renacer

frost-flower-
‘There is no flower like love; no misfortune like hate.’
-James ‘Buddy’ Neilsen.

I’ve really been struggling with this blog lately. After a phenomenal run a few months ago that saw me producing a continuous stream of updates, I’ve fallen back into that creative lull that sees me producing sporadic entries that aren’t necessarily my best efforts. But all hope is not lost. While I’ve been creatively stagnant on this platform, I have still been writing a lot. My novels are coming along beautifully, and I’m learning more and more about myself and my craft every time I take to my computer.

But when it comes to this page, I’ve lost my voice. My confidence has deserted me, and I’ve been left sitting alone in a wasteland of half formed ideas and unjust hate for everyone and everything. There’s blood on my hands and hate in my mind. I just don’t understand why.

Sometimes blogging feels like a dying art form. Sometimes it feels like people don’t care about real talent or grit anymore. We live in a disposable world where people want instantaneous satisfaction and don’t have the patience required to consume literature. Society would rather watch a seven second vine video and glorify the inappropriate antics of a halfwit than consume the rich and highly rewarding posts of bloggers across the globe. Some of the most incredible pieces of writing I have ever witnessed have been on blogs that receive a dismal amount of hits, while many of the most creatively void videos and photographs on social media become worldwide sensations. We live in a world where we worship instant success and fame. If someone has to strive to achieve their dreams through grit and determination, we automatically assume they just don’t have what it takes to be great.

I guess that you could say lately I’ve been feeling defeated. What’s the point of trying to produce something beautiful if people are more interested in the obscene? What’s the point of trying to redefine a world as an artist, when it is more interested in the idea of creating instantaneous celebrities with an expiry date of seven seconds?

I write for myself. I always have. And I write because it’s an incredibly cathartic process that allows me to open my heart and mind to a world that I often feel disconnected from. As paradoxical as it sounds, I isolate myself and sit at my computer lost in my own head, so that I can connect with the macrocosm surrounding me. I believe that literature and words have the power to change the world, and although I write to overcome my own insecurities, a small portion of my soul yearns to be a part of that intellectual movement.

Yesterday one of my favourite lyricists made a bold decision to open up to the world about the man he is verses the façade he has portrayed to the world for over a decade. Buddy Neilsen (the man whose name has appeared on many epigraphs on this site) revealed to the world that his sexuality cannot be clearly defined by the two poles of straight, or gay. He opened his soul and said that he has spent the best part of his life struggling to understand his sexual orientation, and as a result has struggled with depression and alcohol abuse. The revelation left me stunned. I have been a fan of his band Senses Fail for a decade. Ever since their first album Let It Enfold You (a masterful work that draws heavy influence from poetry and literature. Even the title comes from a Bukowski poem) I have felt inspired by the lyrics that Neilsen has growled, screamed and crooned.

To find that a man as talented as Neilsen could be so plagued by demons left me feeling oddly inspired. While I don’t wish to celebrate the years of emotional havoc that Neilsen endured before he found inner peace, I believe that there is something quite beautiful in knowing that someone so successful, albeit in a chaotic and somewhat destructive sense of the word, could be so human. In a world where we often place celebrities on pedestals and almost justify and encourage their destructive behaviour, it is a wonderful thing to see a man come to terms with who he truly is. To stand up and take responsibility for the self-destruction he bought upon himself and finally allow himself a chance to be at peace.

Senses Fail’s latest offering Renacer (see what I did there) takes on an even more eloquent feel now that Neilsen has accepted his own nature and felt comfortable to reveal that to the world. The title, Renacer is a Spanish word meaning to be born again, and as Neilsen growls his way through soulful lyrics denouncing himself for his own shortcomings and yearnings for inner harmony, one can feel the passion for life, for acceptance, and for his art interlaced through the often brutal screams. He really is a man, just like me, plagued by his own demons who writes and sings as a way of creating cohesion between his tortured soul and the universe.

But I digress. The point of all this is that through Buddy’s revelation, through his battles with sexuality, depression, and alcohol abuse, he has inspired me to create art of my own. And yesterday, through his willingness to stand before his legion of fans and denounce his own demons and accept his strengths he has once again inspired me to write. While I will never know the frustration of battling with sexuality, I do know the toll of fighting that most heinous of battles with mental illness and depression. It’s the kind of battle you never truly win, you’ll never wake up and realise that you no longer have an affliction for self-loathing and hate. Instead you take every day for what it is. You accept the beauty of the moments afforded to you, and you learn to push through when your mind feels like a tomb.

Art is an incredible thing. Whether you paint, sing, write, draw, build, destroy, or whatever else. Art is the glue that binds together the fabric of our souls and allows us as a society to collectively push the envelope of what we believe is possible. Through writing, singing and performing Buddy Neilsen managed to develop an understanding of who he really is, and the result of his creative process is some of the most lyrically rich music produced within the hardcore music scene. But the truth behind his new found inner peace was that he never once sought to create music for fame or success. He sought to better understand himself and grow as a human being. His honesty, imperfections and strengths shines through in his works and the fans and the fame are merely a by-product of his dedication and devotion.

So while at times it can feel like blogging is a dying art form in this era of social media and disposable content, I need to take a step back from my violent hatred of talentless consumption and realise that those mediums will never last. There will always be Facebook, Vines, Twitter, and whatever else, but their content will be consumed and disregarded by a legion of users who show indifference to their creator. But writing, and music, and art will last forever. The words that I write today will stand the test of time and be remembered forever by the people that they truly touch. When a writer becomes more concerned with competing for likes, shares, and mass consumption they risk losing sight of what really matters; and that is the catalysts and compulsions behind what they do. I write to fight off the demons of my mind, and to connect with a world that often leaves me broken and confused.

It’s not about likes; it’s not about competing with alternate mediums or artists. It’s about me and my story. It’s about creating something that I am proud of. Something that I believe in. Money, fame, and all that stuff are just potential by-products. I’ll write to the day my heart stops whether I make a million dollars or whether I make none. And when I find myself beat down and sitting in that barren wasteland of broken thoughts and ill-fated projects I’ll remember that no matter how creatively fragile I may feel, my writing is what defines me. As Buddy Neilsen says ‘it doesn’t matter if you fall down. Get the fuck back up.’

Society Trap

When you stop and actually think about it we live in a really fucked up world. There’s war, poverty, segregation, racial vilification, and about a million other atrocities and reasons as to why we as a species are faltering. But perhaps one of the greatest reasons that we are so screwed, and quite possibly one of the reasons we are often so bitter, is the concept of what is socially acceptable and our subsequent adherence to the machine that is society. We wake up every day and put on clothes that make us feel uncomfortable or oppressed, so that we can commute in cars that we are in debt for, to a job that we hate. And we do this just so we can pay for said car, clothes, and whatever else we have chosen to purchase in our consumerist based culture.

We have fucked ourselves into this belief that we need to conform to the idea of being part of a whole; of being part of a machine that tells us how to act, what to wear, to watch, listen to, or even do for a job. And now we trudge through the mediocrities of an existence that is beneath our true potential and try to convince ourselves that this is what we want. It’s sad. It’s sad by definition. And it’s even sadder when the realisation that you are selling yourself short at every goddamn opportunity settles into your mind. You fucked up. I did too. In fact we all did. And as each day passes and another person sells themselves out for a quick buck, the society trap claims another victim.

I want to write and I want to inspire. That’s my dream. To create literature that makes people believe in something greater than themselves; even if it’s just for a fleeting moment. And I want to entertain. I want readers to feel when they consume something that I have produced. Be that fear, love, admiration, loathing, or whatever else. If you as a reader are touched by my words, then I’m achieving something grand. Writing is my passion. My life. And I have goals, I have ambitions, and I have dreams of where my writing can take me. But just like so many others, I sold out to the society trap a long time ago. Now I spend every waking moment searching my way out of this mess.

If you are going to be an adult you need a car, nice clothes, and a roof over your head. Also, you must be unafraid to splash money at a moment’s notice in order to impress. I told myself these things for years, just like I’m sure many others did. I racked up credit card debts and loans, and forced myself into a financial cuckold because that’s what the society trap told me. Burn. Burn it all. Take every ounce of your wage and consume. Its sickly sweet voice would whisper in my ears. So I did. I financially fucked myself up till the point where my dreams had to be put on hiatus so that I could chase money. And when I earned that money I burned through it too; and so the cycle went on and on and fucking on.

I’m a writer. That’s my craft, my passion, and the thing I will bust my arse to succeed at. Yet because of my willingness to abide to what society sees fit I find myself spending my days handling complaints from fucking dickheads who fail to possess the capacity to see beyond their own selfish needs. I am paid a wage to liaise with individuals who can’t see their potential to be so much more, if only they just had the sense to open their eyes and see then world for what it really is. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to free your mind. Open your eyes to your reality and understand where you truly are, and just how far you could reach if you actually took a risk.

Risk…

…That’s what this all comes down to. That’s why so many of us are stuck in this mind-fuck of a conundrum. Because we fear risk. We fear change. And we fear failure. It’s better to blindly consume to support our own failing social structure than it is to stand up and say ‘I can be more than this.’ And by more I’m not talking about being earning more money, or being a celebrity, or owning an expensive car or home. Fuck all of that stuff. Fuck the money. Fuck the status. Fuck the car and home. That’s all consumerist horseshit. What I’m talking about is being more tolerant, more spiritually or emotionally enlightened, more in tune with yourself and your passions. I’m talking about making a conscious decision to harness the intestinal fortitude that lies dormant within you to say ‘today I am going to chase my dreams. Today I am going to be the fucking hero of my own movie.’

It’s possible. It really is. Take a look at the people that you respect: the artists, the singers and songwriters, athletes, writers, and everyone else who have made themselves a success. What do they all have in common? At some point they have made a conscious decision to piss into the wind and fight back against the society trap and create their own future. They have followed their dreams, defied the naysayers, the so called conventional wisdom, and using nothing more than talent, grit, and unwavering determination they have become something great. That’s not to say that it was easy. Because it never is. It’s our failures that define us as individuals. Our ability to scrape ourselves up off of the floor when we’ve been beat down time and time again is what creates the character required to be a success. Those people you respect: they have had their arse kicked by life time and time again. But they’ve never given up. They’ve never bowed down and accepted anything less than what they want and what they deserve.

There is greatness within all of us. We just have to open our minds and realise that we don’t have to blindly accept the society trap. We don’t have to spend our entire lives screwing ourselves into a way of thinking that leaves us crippled with debt and emotionally and intellectually unfulfilled. Yes, we are force feeding our own bloated stomachs with the constructs of a system that leaves us wanting, but you can grab hold of the catheter and start to pull it from your throat. It’s going to hurt like a bitch. You’re going to feel it every inch of the way, as you drag it further and further from your body. But you can do it. You can become one of those people who rises above the slush pile of your own missed opportunities and achieves everything you have ever wanted.

All you have to do is make a conscious decision to chase your dreams. Be more than you can be. And live the life that you want to lead. Jesus, if have to spend the rest of my life trapped in this bullshit, then I’ll probably blow my fucking brains out. I have more to offer. And so do you. Be the hero of your own movie. Refuse to accept the society trap.

Brand

‘You want to win the war? Know what you’re fighting for’
-Corey Taylor.

It turns out that I’ve been approaching this blogging thing all wrong. Driven by emotion and relying on fits of blind rage, narcissism and brief moments of placated happiness to fuel my creativity, I’ve never really stopped to take note of the brand that I was creating. I saw myself as a singularity; an individual comprising of unique thought processes and idiosyncrasies that could never be accurately labelled through a title or brand. I mean, I’m a man goddamn it! I’m no fucking brand….

…But in the eyes of many that’s exactly what I am. See, publishers and agents are always on the hunt for new talent to represent and (hopefully) turn a profit off of their investments in. Regardless of whether I want to be typecast or not, they will forever try to pigeonhole me and my writing based off what I say and do. When my work is bought before them for review, they are not just taking a surface level look at my writing. They are assessing my character and my brand through the tales I chose to tell and the manner in which I do so. They want someone they can market, so they need to be able to define who I am and what I stand for through labelling me.

Case and point: my vulgarity. I swear a lot. And oftentimes when I do so it is to really drive home a point I’m trying to make. But for some, that vulgarity can be offensive and see me labelled as a foul mouthed kid with a lack of respect.

-Trust me. I’ve heard that before. And if we are being totally honest it’s a half truth. I’m arrogant as sin and about as foul mouthed as they come. But I’m all about respect. You’ve just got to earn it.

So then, what kind of brand have I established for myself over the duration of running this blog? Well, one that isn’t great. I’ve painted myself as an emotionally unstable narcissist with a deep routed hate for others. I’ve established myself as a wolf with a penchant for bloodlust and a tongue laced with acid. According to this site I’m an arsehole. And while my own bouts of self-loathing ultimately allow me to grow and develop as a writer, they act as a red flag to anyone considering investing in my work. I mean, if you had outlay time, money, and effort on an up and coming author or artist, would you realistically be willing to take a gamble on someone so ready to destroy everything on a whim? Shit, I wouldn’t.

Which means that it’s time to reinvent myself; time to pull on my surgeon’s mask, clasp a scalpel in my hand and intricately reshape the flesh of this page. So a few weeks ago I did exactly that, I fleshed out the best and the worst that I had to offer and I wrote pieces that took harsher and harsher views on myself until it came to a head in The Flood. I built upon Aristotle’s concepts of dramatic construction and I bought about my own assassination of character. And then I stopped and waited for the gravity of my writing to settle as the Chris Nicholas of old lay broken for the world to see. I fended off constant questioning as to whether I was feeling alright and pushed through awkward conversations about mental health with people who could never understand what I was trying to achieve. I wanted to quite literally prove that what didn’t kill me was only going to make me stronger. I just had to take myself to the edge of my own sanity one last time and know that I was crazy enough to jump, yet strong enough to walk away.

From there I waited for two weeks. Watching the number of people frequenting my site fluctuate in my absence before I finally decided to post something new. I waited because it seemed only fitting that if I was to rebrand and expand my own mind and diversify the nature of my postings that there needed to be a definitive line in the sand that noted where I was and where I am heading next.

So then the question becomes where am I heading next?

Somewhere positive. Somewhere grand. Somewhere exciting and fresh. I’m taking steps to make peace with my past so that I can move forward and enjoy my future. Someone close to me recently asked if I had ever been truly happy in life and the question hit me like a sucker punch from a heavyweight boxer. The truth is that I have known great happiness in most aspects of my existence, but I’ve always placed so much emphasis on my lack of continual successes as a writer that I’ve never been happy in my career. At times that frustration and disappointment has spilled over into other areas of my life and I’ve become bitter, twisted, and self-destructive. My brand as a writer was reflective of this for a long time. I was angry, unnecessarily aggressive, and fighting against anything I could just for the sake of fighting. I was burning myself out just to sustain the anger I thought that I needed to be creative.

I spent a long time failing to realise that the world is far larger than I can comprehend. I spent years believing that there was nothing more important than what I thought and felt, and the struggles I faced on a daily basis. I dedicated space on this site to trivial issues that seemed so grand, but were in reality just hurdles on my journey to success. But now I’m opening my eyes and seeing the world for what it really is. And by doing so, by understanding that this world owes me nothing, I’m more determined than ever to stop fighting for the sake of it and work my arse off to achieve my goals.

Whereas my brand was once disjointed, it is now focused and determined. I’m still arrogant and headstrong. But with dreams as large as mine I need every ounce of that stubbornness to succeed. I’m driven by passion, raw emotion, and the occasional spate of narcissism, but I’m no longer foolish enough to allow myself to become consumed by feelings that I ultimately must remain in control of. I’m the best writer to tell my stories; there is no one more capable and qualified to deliver the messages I have for this world. And I’m still a mother fucking wolf. But unlike the past I now realise that I’m not designed to hurt and maim. I’m not required to fight every damn fight that comes my way and I’m not stupid enough to tear myself apart out of frustration or boredom.

I’m a wolf capable of causing great destruction, but my true strength comes in my new found restraint. I know how to grab an opponent by the throat and tear the life out of them, but I chose to select my battles. I fight to protect those that are close to me or advance my own cause. There’s no honour in fighting every battle and living a life of constant anger. But there is honour in rebranding oneself as something more than the enraged boy I once was.

You can’t truly embrace the future until you can learn from the past and enjoy living in the present. So my rebranding begins now. It starts with clear, concise direction moving forward. Every post on here, every chapter I add to my novels, every damn poem or song I scribble in my notebooks hones my skills and gets me closer than ever before to becoming a published author.

There’s a line in the sand. Mark it. From this point on everything changes.

Free your mind

With forgiveness as our torch, and imagination our sword
We’ll untie the ropes of hate and slash open the minds of the bored
And we’ll start a world so equal and free
Every inch of this Earth is yours, all the land and all the sea
Imagine no restrictions, but the climate and the weather
Then we can explore space together forever
– Rou Reynolds

It’s pretty rare for the content of this blog to stray from my own self-indulgent musings or highly erratic commentary on the literary industry. In fact, I can only recall one post ever doing so. It was written some time ago and labelled Mona Lisa’s and Centrefolds; a piece that was essentially a middle finger to someone I knew and their derogatory view of women. I’m an arrogant piece of work and this page is testament to that. It has given me a soapbox to stand atop of and preach my stubbornness to anyone who will listen. But today I want to set aside my own ego and talk about something a little more serious. I want to talk about race…

…Believe me; I can hear the collective gasp of my readership at the mere mention of a controversial topic. I’m overtly opinionated at the best of time, so I understand and support any apprehension that you may feel. Regardless, I’m going to press ahead and make my argument. Because I have witnessed far too many racial incidents lately that I feel compelled to weigh in on the topic. Someone has too.

Any man or women who judges a person based on the colour of their skin, their heritage or their religious creed is a piece of shit. Plain and simple. If you are someone that feels comfortable to judge somebody based on their faith or their ethnicity then you are a sad, sorry individual that deserves no place on this earth. We live in a supposedly democratic society in which we demand free speech and the right to express ourselves as individuals, yet so many of us are perfectly fine to condemn or ridicule others for wanting the same basic human rights. It seems that we are a world of ignorant arseholes and bigots who care only about our own interests and have no real regard for the culture or beliefs of our peers.

We see racism occur every single day in our society, and oftentimes we do very little to stop and actually take note of its existence. From the bigot on a train cussing out a black security guard just trying to do his job, to the keyboard warrior who slanders the construction of a mosque on Australian soil, through to leaders of organisations such as ISIS, and even the fear-mongering media and politicians who want as to be afraid of anyone different to ourselves. It really has to stop. Something has got to give. It is 2014 for God’s sake, and although I’ve previously stated that I can’t see a future in which I have a family, if I did, I’d be so ashamed to bring them up in a world so ready to cuss out and vilify one another.

I know that people will oppose that statement. They’ll say things like: But I’m not a racist! Sure sometimes I distrust people who are culturally different, but that’s because most terrorists are… True. Most terrorist that attack your country are culturally different. But ask yourself this: how many soldiers from your country are currently serving within another’s boarders? And how many of that countries inhabitants would view those men and women as terrorists? Because I can confidently say that even though those men and women are acting with best intentions, those intentions are not always wanted.

Even just assuming that someone is more likely to be dangerous or pose a threat to your belief systems or safety is in itself a case of racism. I myself am happy to admit that at some stages in my life I have been incredibly insensitive and racist. Thankfully, in those lower moments I’ve had the good graces to keep my heinous thoughts to myself and my mouth firmly shut. I remember once catching a flight not long after a series of terrorist attacks overseas and finding myself standing at a boarding gate casting a suspicious eye over anyone who looked different to me. Jesus, that guy has a headdress on. He might be a suicide bomber! Or I don’t like the way that guy with the beard is pacing over there. He looks nervous. Like me might try and….

Yep. I’ve had those racist thoughts. And I’m betting most of my readers have at some point too. But unlike some, I’m prepared to admit when I have strayed into this mindset of vilification and stereotyping and can give myself a wrap across the knuckles for doing so.

Recently I’ve been witnessing a lot of negativity surrounding the rights of Islamic women and a slanderous campaign to ban the burqa. The campaign is hate mongering at its finest; accusing Islamic women of having something to hide from society, and demanding that they unveil themselves if they wish to exist within our supposedly free social system. The whole idea is ludicrous, and the fact that anyone could be so put out by something that has no immediate concern to them makes my mind boggle. I couldn’t give a shit about whether the woman next to me was wearing a bikini, a t-shirt, or a burqa. It’s no business of mine as to how anyone choses to dress. In fact, if I was going to cast judgement it would probably be directed at the girl getting around with her assets hanging out for the world to see. She ought to gain a little more self-respect and leave something to the imagination.

A few days ago I read an online post by some halfwit piece of shit who tried to compare the wearing of a burqa to wearing a balaclava in a public place. His claim was that if a woman of Islamic faith was able to wear a burqa within a public shopping centre then he should theoretically be able to wear a balaclava and conceal himself from the world. The post gained a lot of support from fellow ignorant losers, but failed to touch on a few important points…

Firstly, anyone who thinks that wearing a mask designed to conceal an identity is similar to an article of religious face is a fucking piece of shit. And anyone who supports such blatant racism and degradation of faith is just as worthless. Secondly, as a white middle class male living within Australia you are in effect, the son of immigrants. Your ancestors came here illegally and claimed this land as their own, showing disregard for the true indigenous owners of the land. So, if you want to get technical with your ‘go back to where you came from’ hate mongering, you better pack your bags and back the fuck on up; because by your own twisted logic you don’t belong here anymore than that Islamic woman trying to go about her business. And finally, imagine how you would feel if you were living in a world where your race was ridiculed, isolated, and disparaged because a minority of fanatics can be loosely associated with you.

Imagine waking up every fucking day and being forced to suffer through sideways glances, muffled snickers, and the judgement of uneducated arseholes. Imagine being judged because of something you believe in, or because of the colour of your skin…

…You know what? Fuck it. Let’s cast aside the politically correct bullshit. You want to know what the difference is between a burqa and a balaclava in your little public security rant you backwards fuck? A woman of faith will happily remove her burqa for security purposes in a private setting if need be; preferably in the presence of a woman, but if needed she will in front of a male too. You on the other hand, refused to remove your balaclava when requested multiple times. You’re not a hero. And you’re not a role model. You’re a sorry piece of shit who deserves his fucking teeth kicked down his throat for inciting hate and ignorance. The fact that you think you have a right to undermine a faith you clearly know nothing about only serves to highlight your own short sidedness. I hope to God that someone tracks you down and breaks your fucking jaw for your little stunt.

Breathe Chris. Breathe. Let’s get to the point of all this.

Here we go…

How much longer are we going to be influenced within our society by the ignorant, the miss-educated, and the bigots? How much longer are we going to allow the opinions of people of a certain colour or religious creed to be shaped and altered by those with a big mouth and undersized brain? How much longer are we going to continue trying to convince ourselves that we live in a fair and free society when there are people suffering persecution for their skin colour or faith every goddamn day?

Free your mind. Open your eyes to the negative bullshit and hate all around you and make your own decisions. You can’t judge an ethnic class or culture based on the actions of a few. We tell our kids that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but it seems that if that book is a Quran, or the Torah, or whatever the fuck else runs incongruous to our own beliefs, than we are happy to judge the shit out of it.

But we can’t keep living like this. It has to stop. We as a species have to come together and do away with the squabbling. Divided we are weak. But united we can save ourselves from our own narrow-mindedness and self-imposed racial oppression. Take a look at all of the death, destruction and sacrifice around the globe caused by cultural division. We are fighting wars that cost us millions of lives and tear apart the fabric of our society. We get hit with a stick, so we find a bigger one and hit back. And this game of racial tit-for-tat continues until we are trading sticks for arms and leaving battlefields awash with blood. We are supposedly the pinnacle of evolution on this earth, yet we are the only species engaged in war. We are the only species who kills out of hate and intolerance.

Love one another as I have loved you; treat others how you would like to be treated; an eye for an eye. We are all singing the same tune just in different tongues. It’s time that we learned a little of one another’s dialect and started making music together rather than competing for the same damn airwaves.

Free your mind. End the vilification. And if you still believe it’s your god given right to degrade and vilify, send me a message. I’m more than happy to beat some sense into your racist head.

Catastrophe – The Flood

Beginning. Middle. End.

Calm. Storm. Flood.

We have now arrived at the end. We’ve been through a transition. We’ve watched the unnerving tranquillity of the calm descend into the torment of the storm, and now the levy is set to break and the flood us upon us. We have reached the point of catastrophe – the end.

Every great piece of writing has a brilliant ending. It’s simply a must in this world of literature that we live in. If you are to create something wonderful then you need to bring your story to a point of dramatic closure that leaves the reader both exhilaratingly satisfied and yearning for more. And that is no easy feat. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly difficult in this day and age to craft an ending to a story that feels authentic, original, and brilliant. We live in a society where studios, agents and publishers are more readily willing to accept something that feels tried and true, knowing it will sell than to take a gamble on a piece of writing with the potential to be a masterpiece, solely because it is unique and therefore ultimately dangerous.

But let’s not digress. My issues with the state of modern writing and publishing are well noted throughout this blog. Today we are focusing on the flood.

Everyone always sees the flood as a negative. When someone talks of a flood we imagine violent and raging torrents of water in biblical proportions. We think of an arc and a guy tasked with weathering hell on earth in order to rebuild life anew out of the devastation that is left behind. And while yes, the flood is often catastrophic it is also an opportunity to wash clean the slate of our own fears or failings and start anew.

Sadly though, the flood that I am set to wade through has no positive connotations. I’m a man laden with extreme narcissism at my best and vehement self-loathing at my worst. I hate so much about my life and fight with myself every fucking day just to keep my head above water. The floodwaters are up to my throat and the ice cold tendrils of failure are lapping at my lips. I often quote Alan Moore’s immerse yourself in the least desirable element and swim philosophy, but I’m not swimming. I’m sinking like a god-damn stone.

So let’s get this shit over with. Let’s flay open my chest and expose the twisted workings of my soul. Let’s stop fighting the floodwaters and allow the destruction to take place. Let’s be honest. Let’s be humble. And let’s fuck up every preconception you’ve ever had of me. Let’s witness the flood.

There’s a cacophony of voices tearing through my head. Jesus, I just want them to stop. I don’t want to be angry. I don’t want to hate. But all this positive shit runs incongruously to the poison in my veins. Why does the god damn wolf in me want to hunt? Why do I need to feed on the flesh of those around me? Why can’t I be placated by the success of others? Why do I feel the need to despise them for their achievements? Surely I can’t forever blame my own shortcomings on the universe at large.

I piss away my time punching in and out of a fucking nine-till-five day job that leaves me feeling like a failure. I’m not a man for what I do. I’m a mouse running on a treadmill for someone else’s amusement; and I go home every fucking day unfulfilled and aware that I’ve contributed nothing to society. People ask me what I do for a career. I don’t have a fucking career. I have a dream of being published and the nightmare of my reality. I’m creatively stifled because I can’t devote myself entirely to anything other than this shit.

I hate that I’m alone, but know deep down that this where my future lies. I’m too much of a mess to ever be loved, or to even let someone get close enough to love me. My future is clear; I was born with nothing and I’ll die alone. But I’ll learn to accept that in time. I’ll learn that sometimes the best thing a damaged soul can do is live a life without another. Why drag someone else into my perpetual downward spirals? It would seem cruel to ever expose anyone to the toxicity of my heart and soul. So I keep quiet and hold people at arm’s length. I wear my masks of the man they believe me to be, and I dance for the amusement of strangers. The worst part? I laugh at their ignorance. No one knows a fucking thing about who I am.

My writing is stuck in limbo. I’m waiting on the validation of strangers. I’m sitting on my hands while someone judges me and decides whether I am worthy of their time. Part of me is thrilled at the opportunity, but the bastard in my wants to grab them by the fucking throat and force them to make a decision. Put a gun to their head and force them to decide. Put it in print or don’t. Just quit with this jumping through hoops bullshit. I’m better than that. Fuck them. Fuck any other author. I’ll destroy the whole lot of them. I’ve crippled people before. I’m not afraid to do it again.

I want to run. Jesus Christ I want to run. Leave behind all of my fuck ups and my flaws and start over again. No debts. No failed relationships. No moronic life decisions. I’d be someone else; somebody humble and righteous. I’d leave all these fucking thoughts behind. My flood would be different. There’d be no waters fuelled by hate rag dolling my battered body. There’d be positivity washing over by skin, carrying me to places unknown. My friends would be there. My real friends. They’d actually know me. I’d be able to let them in. I wouldn’t be so fucked up and scorned by the ghosts of relationships passed.

Run… Jesus fucking Christ I want to run. But the fear of actually being happy or successful has my feet glued to the floor and my fingers reaching for a bottle.

My flood is a mess. I’m surrounded by black water and flotsam capable of breaking bones and minds alike. It will continue to gain strength. Levies will break and my mind will be destroyed. I’ll die alone. Unless I can overhaul who I am and cut the devil from my soul then I’ll never allow anyone in. I’ll live a life as a frustrated author, and I will continue to battle against the raging torrents until I can push my way upstream and achieve my dreams of being published. And will continue to fight through my calms, my storms, and my floods and their sempiternal nature for as long as I shall live. I will fight until I can create an ending worthy of literary royalty.

Catastrophe was the name Aristotle gave to his final act. It seems only fitting then that the life of someone desperate to replicate his successes be bound to experience exactly that. There is no heaven without hell. There is no success without failure. And there is no fortune without catastrophe.

Beginning. Middle. End.

Calm. Storm. Flood.

Spark. Blaze. Inferno.

Protasis. Epitasis. Catastrophe.

Call them whatever you want. Every incredible story has three very distinct components. Our job as authors and storytellers is to make them beautiful and unique. To breathe life to our characters and their journeys in such a way that the reader becomes invested in their transitions through these acts.

Epitasis – The Storm

Have you ever read a novel, watched a movie, or listened to an album that started beautifully, capturing your attention with brilliant writing, only to fall apart in the middle? Sadly it’s a common occurrence in modern day writing. Young and even more experienced authors alike construct a brilliant introduction to their work. Their premise line is jaw dropping; their protagonist set a phenomenal task, and their audience is left wetting their lips in anticipation. But the work trips and falters as the writer tries to blunder their way towards the thrilling conclusion they have been working on for months.

They have a brilliant beginning, and a masterful ending. But they’ve got no middle.

They have an unnerving calm, and a flood of catastrophic proportions. But their storm is weak and unbefitting of the destruction their impending flood will cause. The work seems unbalanced and just doesn’t sit right in the mind of their reader.

Every writer at some point has fucked up a script because their middle (or their storm) was utter shit. Myself included. It’s a common occurrence as a writer to be struck by a wave of inspiration, it hits you like a lightning bolt and sends your mind into overdrive. You can suddenly see your protagonist in all of his or her glory. You envision them standing before you, allowing you to take note of and shape their idiosyncrasies. The beginning of your story emerges, and more often than not you see the ending taking shape too. But you never see the middle. And you never will, because you’re not supposed to. You’re supposed to create it. Just as you would in the real world. You have your beginning: where you are right now. And you have your end: where you want to be. How you get there though is entirely up to you. That’s the magic of storytelling. That’s the purpose of being a writer. And that’s the purpose of this crazy thing we call life.

So why do so many of us make a mess of the middle? I mean, if we are going to continue down this path of exploring Aristotle’s rule of beginning, middle, and end, surely we should devote equal time and consideration to all three components? Why do we as writers often neglect to produce the same level of mastery in our storm as we do in the calm that comes before and the flood that follows?

For some, they deem the middle to be less important. Everyone remembers where they started and where they finished. They try to rush through it because no one ever gives a shit about anything that comes in between. True. In some cases; but not in great writing. Other writers have a relatively solid storm to begin with, but become victim to their own perfectionism. They approach a work with preconceived notions that they must adhere to industry averages in regards to word counts and take a lean, well written story and pad it out, adding filler until their once punchy script becomes lost amongst pomp and circumstance.

The middle is just as important as the beginning and the end. Just like the storm is just as integral to beautiful storytelling as the calm and the flood.

But as I said in my previous entry, I don’t think that Aristotle’s word choice is apt for today’s society. Well, certainly not in regards to the novels I create and consume. The middle and the storm are similar, yet inherently different. Each strikes at different chords of emotion within the reader’s heart and mind, soliciting a different response to the same passage of text. The middle sounds mundane, and maybe that’s where some writers go wrong. They view the middle simply as a centre point between two extremities. They view it as a bridge between the past and the future, devoting little time to fleshing it out correctly.

But the storm… The storm is the violent disturbance of the calm that leads to the torment of the flood. It’s a cacophony of disjointing noise and a flash flood of movement and light. The storm is a force to be reckoned with. It’s not simply a central point, but a devastating passage that demands its own respect. The storm is fast, brutal, and deadly. It is not something to be taken lightly.

So let’s continue on with our previous example from the calm…. Let’s talk about me.

Here’s my middle: Chris travels to New York from his home town in Brisbane Australia to chase down his dream of becoming a published author. He meets many great people and his work is accepted for review by a number of agencies. He arrives home to Brisbane and quits his job, moves into a new home and waits patiently for a phone call to say that his work has been accepted and will be put to print. After three months the call still hasn’t arrived and he grows increasingly anxious. He writes as much as he can to occupy his time and he finds himself partying more often. His heart skips a beat every time his phone goes off, praying that the call has finally arrived. And he does everything in his power to stop himself from thinking about the girl that he wants more than anything…

…my middle sucks. Once again, there’s a story to be told, it’s just not one that is going to immediately grab your attention. By viewing where I am right now as a middle, it immediately becomes mundane and reads as such. But when I start to view where I am as the storm and flesh things out a little more, we get this:

Chris travels to New York from his home town in Brisbane Australia to chase down his dream of becoming a published author. He meets many great people and his work is accepted for review by a number of agencies. He arrives home to Brisbane and quits his job, burning the last remaining tie to a failed relationship that left him broken hearted, and moves into a new home to re-establish a support network for his damaged mind. He waits for the call to say that his work has been accepted, but after three months it still hasn’t arrived. He gets close to achieving his dreams; real close. But success continues to elude him. He writes as much as he can, when he can. But it comes in waves of inspiration and shear creative desolation. He starts drinking often in order to cope with the stresses of his relationship issues and the pressure of waiting for his dreams to come to fruition. And try as he might to let go of the feelings he has for someone way out of his league, he can’t help but make an absolute fuckwit of himself over and over again in a desperate attempt to win the heart of the most beautiful girl in the world.

Better. There are issues there to be fleshed out and explored now. I’m stressed about my future as a writer, and I’m fucked up over a girl that I can’t have. So I drink hard liquor and I write. And I systematically destroy myself for fun. I go through moments of divine inspiration and moments of creative apathy where I could walk away from all of this for good. And I swing between the two at a moment’s notice.

My life is complex and there is enough happening there to build upon in order to create a beautifully disastrous flood. Which is perfect, because that is where we are headed next. The calm has given way to the storm, now the storm is building upon my issues and anxieties. The storm will build and build until we reach its eye and descend into the anarchy and chaos of the flood.

Protasis – The Calm

Remember when you were a kid in school learning the fundamentals of creative writing and you were told that every story must contain a beginning, middle and end? Your teacher stood before the classroom and explained that a successful story must comprise of these three components in order to be coherent and complete, and you blindly accepted his rule as fact. Why wouldn’t you? It’s not exactly a ground breaking concept. A story must begin and end somewhere, and within those two points a middle can be found. Well, believe it or not, in that moment you were being exposed to the teachings of the infamous Greek philosopher Aristotle for the first time. Aristotle was responsible for the idea that a whole is what has a beginning and middle and end (technically the protasis, epitasis and catastrophe).

It’s sound advice. And one of the few rules in writing that you can probably still remember from your early years. But rules are made to be broken….

…Or in this case, redefined. If we are going to get technical, the Roman drama critic Horace already fucked up the philosopher’s rule of thumb when he started advocating a limit of five acts centuries ago. But for the purpose of this post we are going to disregard all who oppose the three part dramatic structure and focus instead on pushing the creative ruling of a genius beyond its limits. Beginning, middle and end is a start. But in today’s world it just doesn’t feel adequate. Instead, I have taken it upon myself to rename them as the calm, the storm, and the flood.

Beginning. Middle. End.

The calm. The storm. The flood.

Do you follow so far? Good. Then let’s begin with the calm:

The concepts are so similar; yet so strikingly different. When someone talks of a beginning we think of happiness, of a fresh start, of possibilities. We think of a point marked in time and/or space at which something begins. There’s a great sense of optimism instilled within the phrase. A beginning is more often than not something to be celebrated; and we as readers/watchers/listeners often approach a new work with a sense of excitement and wonder. Yet when we substitute the word beginning with the calm we feel a sense of foreboding creep into our mind.

That feeling of excitement at the new and unknown becomes tainted. The calm is instantly recognised as a moment of reprieve or unnerving tranquillity that seems doomed to falter when difficult times arise. Those same possibilities provided through the beginning are still present; we can still have fresh starts and happiness, their existence is now just magnified by that sense of unease settling over everything like a fine mist.

You can see where I’m going with this can’t you? Something as simple as the phrase we choose to bestow up the opening chapters of our stories, or artworks, or our lives, can shift our perspectives and allow us to create wondrous tales of optimism or crippling tales of woe. Some people would surmise that what I am talking about is to do with mindsets and their influence on the human condition. And in some respects they would be right. Mind over matter, or positive thinking is fantastic. But we as writers and artists also owe it to ourselves to take the road less travelled and indulge our darker impulses in order to produce the excellence we often demand of ourselves.

Let’s use an example that’s all too familiar to the readers of this site. Let’s use myself… I like to break myself apart on a regular basis, so why not do it again here? Let’s view my life right now as the beginning and break down our premise line for a story:

Chris is a twenty six year old aspiring author who dreams of crafting a living through producing excellent novels. He’s single, but in love with a girl that he just can’t have. He is working in an industry that he will never fully commit to, because deep down his heart belongs in a world of fiction. He has family and friends that he loves more than anything else in the world. And while he’s unsure about what the future has in store, Chris knows that if he keeps striving towards his goals he will one day see his name on the hardcover of a novel…

…Yawn.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a story in there, it’s just ambiguous, uninteresting and probably not likely to grab the attention of anyone accustomed to fantastic literature. The beginning in this instance is vague and pretty fucking boring. No one wants to read about this version of me. No one wants to discover his middle. But if we were to shift our perception of my life and view it as the calm, it would look more like this:

Chris is a twenty six year old aspiring author who dreams of crafting a living as a novelist. Frustrated by his inability to break into the industry, he finds himself punching in and out of a day job that fails to quench his thirst for success. He’s alone; his heart belongs to a girl that he just can’t have. She’s too beautiful, too precious. He knows that no matter how badly he wants her, he would be her fall from grace if she were to ever love him. He has friends he would protect with bloody hands, and a family he would sacrifice everything for. The future scares him. He wants success so badly that he is prepared to destroy anyone who stands in his path. His mind is coiled tight like a spring twisted beyond its range. There is a storm brewing in his mind, and he’s too weak to weather it…

…The calm suggests that this state is not sustainable. Our subject is coiled, on edge, and in love with a future and a girl who continue to elude him. He’s unstable and frustrated. But most of all he’s interesting to us. The calm cannot last. We know this, a storm is coming and our subject is going to have to weather the bitter lashings of wind and rain. He’ll be soaked to the bone and forced to pit himself against forces greater than himself. And we want to witness it. We want to see him pushed and broken.

There is a storm coming. It will take what we know to be true about the middle and redefine it. Just as Horace debunked Aristotle’s theory of dramatic structure, so too will the storm warp the epitasis, or middle, we often know to be true. The calm is passing and the storm is almost at hand.

(Almost) Second & Sebring

I’ve always had this strange idea that the day I become a published author I’ll make a few phone calls to notify my loved ones of my success before sitting down with a glass of scotch, a cigar and a stereo pumping out one of my favourite songs of all time: Second and Sebring. It’s a weird little fantasy, and one that doesn’t really have any great significance other than to provide a moment of reflection and mark the moment when I transition into a new period within my life. The song itself is an obvious choice to me. With an opening line stating ‘I believe it’s time for me to be famous’, it just seems like the logical choice for an author with an ego as grand as mine. But when you start to dissect the lyrics a deeper meaning emerges as Austin Carlile and Shayley Bourget pay homage to those who raised them and allowed them to succeed.

So this time I’ll make you proud.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been sitting on some pretty big news and was so close to having my own Second & Sebring moment. But sadly it just wasn’t meant to be. That homage to my family and friends for their refusal to give up on my stubborn arse was put on hiatus.

You may remember that a few months ago I ventured across the globe to chase down my dreams and the result was pretty damn positive. I walked away from the experience with a list of agents and film companies reviewing my work and a renewed passion for what I do. Since then I’ve been sitting on my hands awaiting feedback from those companies, twiddling my thumbs and averaging about five hours sleep a night. Then two weeks ago I got notification that my work was being presented to a board of directors for potential representation and publication. Suddenly that five hours of sleep I was averaging was cut in half and my mind went into overdrive as I started to imagine what it would be like when that phone call came through saying you’ve made it. Success was so damn close that I could taste it.

For two achingly long weeks I sat in the most fucked up version of limbo I have ever experienced. Neither a success nor a failure I moved through everyday life on autopilot, blissfully unware of anything other than my IPhone as it beeped with each call, message, or email. My phone would spring to life and my heart would skip a beat; could this be the call? And when it wasn’t a small piece of me would wither and die. Then after fifteen days of sheer hell I finally got the call every writer dreads:

We like it. It’s strong. It’s engaging. It’s just not us. Best of luck with another company.

Funnily enough I have always found positive feedback harder to take than the negative. When someone delivers the negative I feel inspired to work harder. It’s like waving a red rag to a bull. You tell me what I’ve produced is shit and I will run myself into the ground to create something better than you could ever dream of. But to be told that you are so close to everything you ever wanted is worse than being told to give up altogether. I’ve been in this situation before; a previous manuscript almost found publication, and when it fell through I crumbled. Yet this time I seem to be handling my stumble at the finish line rather well. I’m feeling inspired, confident, and grateful for the experience. It is an incredible feeling to have positive affirmations bestowed upon your work by an industry you crave to break in to.

So my gratefulness got me thinking; why do I have to wait until I’m successful or famous to pay homage to the people who have supported me throughout my journey? Why can’t I say near enough is close enough and throw out a little love to the people I would give my life to protect? Surely I can just say thankyou to my mother and father, my brothers, sister, and sister in law who have listened to my misguided tales of woe or pigheadedness over the years. And give recognition to my friends that have never given up on me when I have fallen in a heap or regressed into to a hermit like state. Surely I can have a Second & Sebring moment right now and say I’m still yet to make you proud of me, but through the positive feedback I received with my knockback I’m now more determined than ever to succeed.

Right now my work is still under review by a number of other companies and I hope and pray every single day that it will find a home with one of them. But even if it doesn’t I’m young, determined and not afraid to be knocked down anymore. If all of this fails I’ll remind myself that what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger and rise once more to take this industry by force. Until then the scotch and cigars remain untouched, but that song of homage and my love for those who inspire me will be screamed at decibels usually reserved for the wails of the damned.

To paraphrase Carlile and Bourget, when I break through I’ll make you proud to see me overcome all day life.

Proud of who you raised.

The Damaged One

“The royalty must die like common beggars and petty thieves.”
– Rody Walker

Part of being a writer involves consuming large quantities of literature so as to forever be broadening your horizons and increasing your knowledge. Most of the time this means you get to actively search for brilliant authors and ingest rich texts. But sometimes you find yourself trawling through blog posts, manuscripts, journal articles, and everything else thinking what the fuck is this shit? You respect the author; they’re one of your favourites. But the work is just sub-par. It’s too familiar; too comfortable. You finish reading and you sit there with this fucked up taste in your mouth and a mind full of disappointment. One of your favourite writers missed the mark because they erred on the side of caution and played it safe, producing a manuscript without any real heart.

We’ve all been through this moment. A script just doesn’t feel right. A movie is just OK. A song leaves you feeling a little let down. The work the author produced before this was brilliant, but this just feels… Blah.

One of the greatest risks to any author or artist is the threat of becoming creatively stagnant. You are in a drought, desperate for a wave of pure inspiration; so you start dredging through failed ideas, or even worse, past successes in a desperate attempt to replicate some minor success. You create a script that is palatable or marketable in the eyes of the literary world and you start flogging it to anyone stupid enough to accept your second rate dribble.

It seems like a good idea at the time. And I know that every successful author bangs on about the idea of consistency, but if the best you can do is rip off your own shit, it’s time to take a break. Walk away for a bit and allow yourself time to recharge and refocus, then come back when you are ready and write your fucking heart out.

Lately I’m becoming a little disillusioned by the shear amount of second rate shit that is flooding the market. It’s incredibly disheartening to be busting your arse to try and carve out a niche within an industry notoriously difficult to enter, only to see those on the inside churning out page turners with a lacklustre plot and an achingly familiar protagonist. I’m aware that I sound like a prick here but I really don’t care. When you find yourself rife with boredom page after page you need to start asking some serious questions of the once great authors who are now plodding through their high concept action thriller like a fucking aging Clydesdale ploughing a field.

But who is at fault here? Is it the author who has found their formula for success? Or is it us as fans who become so conditioned to accepting their work as brilliant based solely on reputation that we fail to call bullshit when they start slipping? The truth is that it’s probably the latter. We’re at fault; every single one of us. Our failure to call out second rate trash has allowed an industry to fall into a rut.

But it’s not too late to turn things around. There are still some phenomenally good writers producing magnificent scripts every single day. But if things are going to change authors across the globe have to learn how to embrace their inner mongrel once more. To paraphrase an old expression, if you want to change the world you can’t do it through peace. You need do it with a knife. If peace is what you desire then you need to fight for it with every inch of your soul and you need to fucking earn it. Brilliant writing is the same. If you want to be the best then you have to fight for it. You have to spend time crafting out scenes that leave the reader shell shocked. And when you become the best; when you have usurped everyone else and stand atop of the best sellers list you have to fight twice as hard to stay there. Your success has drawn a target on your back.

I often refer to the author in me as a wolf. I’m vicious, I’m raw, cunning, and a bit of a prick. Sometimes I own that analogy, and sometimes I feel emotionally crippled by my own desire to savage any other author within my reach. Give me a chance and I’ll sink my fangs into the throat of an opponent and shake until their vertebrae snap and their blood fills my throat. I’m a wolf. And I’m the damaged one. I want to hurt, and I truly believe that’s what this industry needs right now.

We need aggression, we need raw passion, and we need writing that forces us to re-examine exactly what it means to produce brilliant work. Right now the royalty of the industry have a stranglehold over what is considered to be great, but it’s time for the royalty to be challenged and for a new wave of conquerors to rise. I’m not necessarily talking about myself here either; I mean, I’d love to see myself succeed, but I’d also love to read a fucking book that isn’t predicable dog-shit too.

So where to from here? Because I’m speaking out of place aren’t I? Let’s be honest, it’s so easy to stand on a soapbox and talk shit when you have nothing to lose. And maybe if I was standing in the shoes of a successful author I’d be singing a different tune. Sadly, I’m not. So I’ll keep screaming my lungs out until I’m heard or someone dares to silence me.

From here there are two paths for me to follow. I can keep going down this path. I push myself through passion and determination in an effort to become a force to be reckoned with within the literary industry. I’m young and I’m a cocky son of a bitch, so it could happen. Time is on my side. Or I can step down off of my soapbox, pick up a trashy page turner and concede to a life of struggling to see my work in print while a bunch of fucking has-been’s and copycats produce a bunch of shit….

….But I’m a wolf. And I’m the damaged one. I don’t want to settle. I want to fight. The royalty must die. New heroes must rise. And then in time they too need to fall. This industry will crumble unless each new wave of talent moving through it pushes the envelope of great literature just that little bit further. Show me an author with raw talent and a hunger to succeed and I will show you fifty best sellers he or she can out produce. It’s not disrespect that has been saying this it’s love and admiration of an industry. The royalty must die.

Worldeater

“I roam across the land. I wish to seek and understand the truth about life. And about who I really am…”
-Adrian Fitipaldes

Today I learned that one of my favourite lyricist/vocalists Adrian Fitipaldes has stood down as the front man of Sydney Metalcore outfit Northlane. For those of you who have been following my blog for a little while the name probably rings a bell; I’ve drawn attention to Fitipaldes’ work numerous times throughout the history of this site. The man’s brutally honest, intricate, and often raw verses form in my humble opinion, some of the most beautifully constructed pieces produced within the last decade of hardcore and metal music.

Big call. But totally justified.

Fitipaldes and the rest of Northlane completely redefined how I view music, my writing, and the world at large with their 2013 release Singularity (Yep. That’s where I first learned of the concept I consistently bang on about). Through the album’s rolling crescendos, melodic break downs and guttural vocals, the band delivered a message of positivity and ambition that captivated this struggling author and showed me that with unrelenting passion and determination I could become the architect of my own destiny. Sadly though, citing mental and physical exhaustion suffered through his art, Fitipaldes will no longer be continuing to produce the mind altering music that inspired more than a handful of posts on this site.

While I’m shattered to hear that he will no longer be fronting the metalcore outfit, I know that with a mind as chaotically creative as his, he will bounce back soon enough. Fitipaldes will return to the world of music in some capacity. You can mark my word. But his departure has got me thinking about the correlation of art and life, and how far an author, artist, lyricist, or musician can push themselves before their passion begins to become their detriment. How much suffering can one endure in the name of art? And at the end of the day is it all worth it?

The question of suffering is a moot point. Look at some of the greatest artistic minds in history and the suffering that they endured to push themselves and their respective fields forward. Vincent Van Gogh cut off his own ear and eventually killed himself. Hemmingway took his own life with a shotgun. Beethovan was condemned to a prison of silence that robbed him of hearing the beauty of his own work. The lists are endless and the point is that in this life we all suffer. But the best of us take that suffering and turn it into something beautiful and unique.

So is it worth it? Is suffering for your art really worth the hassle? You can bet your fucking arse it is. There is no better feeling in this life then seeing the joy that your words, paintings, music, thoughts, feelings and actions has on another man or woman. There is something so selfless and so intimate in reaching out to stroke the chords of a loved one or fan’s heart. There is something so humbling in being afforded the opportunity to take their hand and lead them along a path of self-discovery and enlightenment that makes all the suffering and all the torment so worthwhile. That’s why artists do what they do. They push themselves harder and harder not because they want to break (although I will occasionally do this), but so that they can have that impact on the lives of those they are fortunate enough to touch. A man like Fitipaldes quite literally exhausted his body and soul so that he could deliver a message of hope to his fans.

It’s a commendable act and one that sometimes isn’t always recognised within our modern day society. We have come to view ourselves as consumers of art rather than fans, and as such we expect and demand that level of self-sacrifice and dedication from our artists. We expect them to produce until they falter and fall, sometimes forgetting just how much enrichment they have bought into our lives before we simply discard their now fractured works in search of something new to captivate us.

I know that all of this must sound rather frivolous coming from a man who hasn’t yet had the opportunity to touch the hearts and minds of as many people that he believes he can. But I truly believe that there is something to be learned from an artist’s sacrifice and willingness to self-implode.

No successful artist has ever achieved without first experiencing some form of hardship. Be it through rejections, depression, lack of determination, or whatever else, every single one of us suffers at some point. Not because we want to, but because we have to. You can’t have a heaven without a hell. You can’t have black without white. And you can’t have the elation of success without the lows of failure or exhaustion. But the successful artists, the Hemmingway’s, the Van Gogh’s, the Fitipaldes’, they make a conscious decision to succeed. In those moments where they are stretching beyond their limits and pushing themselves to breaking point they are faced with a decision; rise up and be something. Or give up on everything you ever dreamed of. So they rise; no matter how hard they have fallen, or how insurmountable a task that may seem.

Right now, the lyricist that has inspired this author beyond all conventional measure is exhausted and stepping down from the limelight. But with a talent as bright as his, and a desire to alter the world for the better, it’s only a matter of time before Adrian Fitipaldes returns. And this author cannot wait to see what he produces when he does.

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