The Depths: Are you OK?

‘I’ve got friends by my side. I’ve got hope in my eyes. And dreams to aspire to. And the whole wide world to watch below.’
-Joel Birch

This Thursday the 11th of September is a very special day. I know that there are the obvious reasons as to why September 11th is forever marked as a day of remembrance, celebration of life and triumph over adversity. I can still remember standing in front of the television dressed in my school uniform watching as the modern world was forever altered. But it’s an event much smaller, yet no less important that marks September 11th as a day I believe should all mark in our calendars.

This Thursday, the 11th of September is the fifth annual R U OK day. A day where we are asked to create open dialogue with our friends and family, and ask the question we often neglect to ask in our overly erratic and face paced lives: Are you OK?

Founded in 2009 by Gavin Larkin, R U OK? Strives to inspire us to create meaningful dialogue to assist those of us struggling with mental illness.

As someone who has stumbled more times than he cares to count, the day is something that I whole-heartedly endorse. And I implore every single one of you to take a moment and sit down with a family member or friend and create a moment of intimacy and support that may just save a life. Sometimes a kind word or a moment of compassion means more to someone than you could ever possibly imagine.

Oftentimes on this blog I make light of the fact that I’ve pushed myself beyond breaking point with my own mental wellbeing. I reference my sometimes deliberate downward spirals into despair as a means of creating art and establishing a unique voice as I strive to be a singularity. But the truth is that some of my lesser moments have been no laughing matter. I’ve been sick. I’ve been low. And I’ve been totally alone, picking at my own mental scabs so as to leave my bones exposed. And while I do play on my own fractured mind with tongue in cheek, I cannot stress enough just how much I relied on the support of the people I love, yet tend to push away to save me from myself in my desperate times.

Even now I appear to be calm, happy, and at peace with myself. But the truth is there is a fire burning inside of me that will always threaten to consume my soul and leave me empty and alone once more. Am I OK? Perhaps on the surface I am. But the truth is this: I torture myself through my writing. I currently have two manuscripts under construction, a blog that I bombard with wildly erratic tales of elation and tragedy, and a completed novel under consideration for professional representation. I create acquaintances not friends; because I struggle to let people in for fear that they will see the monster in me. I’m in love with someone who sees me as an absolute cluster-fuck of raw emotion and insecurity. And sometimes I lay awake at night and wonder what it would be like if I never started this writing shit. I question whether I’d be happier, whether I’d be more willing to accept my own limitations, or more willing to let other people in.

The point is that our greatest failing as a species is that we only have the ability to see what is on the surface. When we look at our friends and family and see them smile, we naturally assume that everything is OK; that they are happy. But sometimes there is a fragility hidden beneath their smiles, a vulnerability concealed in their laughter, which can only be discovered if we take the time to truly connect with them. Have you ever heard the story of Pagliacci? It’s a simple story within one of my favourite novels of all time: Watchmen. It goes like this…

I heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Life seems harsh, and cruel. Says he feels all alone in threatening world. Doctor says: “Treatment is simple. The great clown – Pagliacci – is in town. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. “But doctor…” he says “I am Pagliacci.” Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.

Sad isn’t it? Yet so true. We misconstrue happiness and we fail to see just how powerful our thoughts, our feelings, and our words can truly be. But all is not lost, and although we so often become consumed with our own lives we can still stop and make time for each other. Unity is intrinsic and compassion, honesty, and candour are the only cure to mental illness. Take me for example: I’ve got pride by the fucking bucketful and before this blog I would never have even considered sharing my lower moments with anyone. I thought that my depression was a weakness and something to be ashamed of. And while it is a weakness, that weakness is in the chemistry of the chemical make up in my brain. Not in my character. My illness and my lower points are not something to be ashamed of at all. In fact, being able to speak about mental illness is about the bravest thing anyone can do. Having the guts to say ‘you know what? Fuck it. I’m not OK’ is something that should be celebrated not condemned.

So, this Thursday the 11th of September I beg of you to ask the question of those around you: Are you OK? Listen, empathise, and grow together. To paraphrase the epigraph above; help those who are low to realise that they have friends by their side; that they can have hope in their eyes. And that they can have dreams to aspire to; and a whole wide world to watch below. Your kindness just may pull someone back from the depths of their own self destruction. Take it from someone who has been there.

Only one of us walks away

“Everyone is dead and we dance like a knife fight.”
-Matt Breen.

So there’s this guy. He’s young, cocky, intelligent, and brash. He’s spent a lifetime learning how to play with people. He knows how to read them and control them. He hates the person that he is sometimes. He hates that he can figure out everyone but himself. It infuriates him that he can break open the mind of a stranger when he can barely scratch at the surface of his own subconscious. He’s self-destructive; he can’t seem to help himself sometimes. He’s a man with an overactive imagination and a tongue laced with acid who just wants to watch his own world burn. He’s an unstoppable force.

Then there’s this girl. She’s beautiful. She’s intelligent, funny, artistic, compassionate, driven, and did I mention that she’s beautiful? She comes into the life of the man mentioned above and shatters his preconceptions that he can survive as an island. She breaks through the intricate web of lies he creates to shield himself from the world and sees his soul laid bare. There’s just something about her; this magnetism that draws him in. No matter how hard he tries to fight it he can’t help but feel himself being drawn towards her. She’s perfect in his eyes. Her idiosyncrasies leave him speechless, and her smile sends him weak at the knees. But there are just two little problems. The first? The first is that she’s an immovable object. All the bullshit he spins to others just doesn’t work with her. She’s looked into his eyes and seen his soul and she knows him better than he knows himself.

The second problem? She’s just as self-destructive as he is.

Welcome to the world of romance according to Chris Nicholas. Instead of boy meets girl and falls in love and lives happier ever after, I’ve found myself writing about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. What happens when a man who keeps everyone at a distance meets a girl who does the same damn thing and he suddenly finds himself trying to overcome the same mental barriers he uses to thwart the advances of others is a concept that intrigues the hell out of me. And it’s one that leaves me scratching my head as I pen my way through page after page of my script.

So let’s delve a litter deeper… I’m thinking out loud right now, and there’s no real point to this post other than some general mind mapping. If you’re after something a little more clear and concise, this will be your last chance to opt out.

No? You’re still with me? Alright, let’s continue.

This guy, his name is Miles, meets this girl: Ava. She’s everything he could ever want, and he knows that if she gave him a chance he could be the same to her. But she’s distant and aloof. There’s chemistry between them, anyone can see that. And when they are together there is electricity in the air that is almost tangible. They just click. But she keeps him at bay, just like he has done to so many people before. It drives him wild, he pushes and he pushes, and soon the unstoppable force collides with the immovable object at full speed. But while he hopes and prays that the collision will bring about a climatic shift where two worlds become one, it shatters him instead. The unstoppable force loses out and the immovable object barely registers the impact; she’s too busy destroying herself to even realise what might have been.

And so the knife fighting begins. It’s not vicious though, and that’s the worst part. The duo dances their way through a courting process that is beautifully destructive; their moments of intimacy and honesty leaving behind small cuts on their souls. He wants her soul, her mind, and her heart. She wants to shut him out for fear of getting hurt. The idea of letting someone understand her leaves Ava with a sense of dread so severe she wants to run away from everything. Just as Miles wants to burn his world when things go wrong, she wants to abandon hers.

So they dance and they dance. He knows her better than she knows herself. He can see when she’s denying herself the opportunity to be happy. But she also understands his lust for self-destruction better than he could ever hope to comprehend. She’s destroyed herself more than anyone could ever know and can see what he is thinking before he’s even aware of it himself. They are two identical souls fighting against one another for that common ground. He wants to pull her close. She sees the threat and wants to push him away.

Sounds confusing right? And just a little macabre too I guess. But I love the concept. I love the struggle, and I love the idea of two people who are so similar yet so different at the same time. My characters are based off of Aristotle’s idea of friendship. The philosopher said that a friend is a single soul dwelling within two bodies, and that’s exactly what I want to create with my love story. I want to create something beautiful, but something destructive. One wants to love, one is afraid to be loved. And in the end, when all the knife fighting is over, only one of them will walk away.

The assassination of Chris Nicholas

“I hope you live to see the day when your world goes up in flames. And as you die, you’ll see my face. You’re the only one to blame.”
-Corey Taylor.

And here we go…

I’m doing it again. I’m pushing myself to that place where my mind shatters and everything I’ve worked so hard to create becomes something to be burned and broken. I’m not sleeping, I’m pushing myself harder and longer when I exercise, and I’m forcing myself to occupy the darkened fringes of my mind where the demons of days gone past still lurk in the shadows. It’s a horrible thing to do to oneself; to take a mind that has finally found happiness and beat it down again and again until it lies fractured and broken in its own excrement and filth. But why Chris? Why would you want to intentionally torture yourself?

I’m doing it for the sake of art. Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone and I’ve been sitting inside of mine for too damn long. My writing has become fluffy and weak; my mind has become an ooze of positivity, conformity, and bullshit. But all of that is going to change real soon. I’ll keep pushing until the fracture occurs and I’ll wallow in the beautiful mess of my own emotional masochism and the destruction of a mind I’ve never been able to comprehend. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to bring about the assassination of Chris Nicholas. Of what he has become, what he was going to be, and what people believed him capable of.

It all started with an epigraph: a quote by the world renowned philosopher Laozi – a man best known as the reputed author of the Taeo Te Ching. It went a little something like this:

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.

And with those nineteen words came an entire world of characters, story arcs, successes, failures, moments of triumph and great sorrow. With those nineteen words offered as insight of what was to come: Vulnerable was born. It’s a twisted love story told by a man with a penchant for mayhem and hate. I’ve spent years toiling away at scripts based around angels of death, war, destruction, and broken spirits so it seemed like such a monumental task to produce anything else.

Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you that I’m not the fluffy type. I’m more likely to offend than swoon. I shoot from the hip with little regard for what others think about me. But I know others; give me an opportunity and I’ll break your fucking mind. I’ve done it before and you can be damn sure that I’ll do it again. I’ll be your master and I’ll destroy everything you love and everything you’ve ever believed in. I have intelligence and I have strength. But I’ve never really known myself, and I’ve never been able to master the narcissistic monster I can become. True power and wisdom have always eluded me. I’ll always pull when pushed too far. But I can’t tell you why and I can’t stop it. I’ll never start the fight, but I’ll sure as hell finish it. And if there’s no one left to fight, I’ll start tearing apart my own fucking mind out of boredom and an urge to destroy.

Laozi’s words hit me hard. I’d chosen an epigraph that not only resonated with this author, but left him actually questioning his own behaviour. I’m stubborn. I’m loyal. I’m confident, an arsehole, and about a million other things. But I’m such an enigma to myself and everyone around me that it seemed only fitting to try and garner some kind of understanding of self as I ventured through unchartered waters with my love story. So I chose to open my novel in a shrink’s office, and I poured my fucking heart out onto page after page until my soul felt bare. I started off writing a novel to challenge myself and almost instantly realised that the reason I’ve failed in past relationships, job opportunities, and whatever the hell else, was because sometimes I can be a real piece of shit.

I’m different. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t care about people. I don’t care about their opinions, their problems, or their lives. I have a gathering of men and women that I rely on who I will protect with bloody hands. As for the rest: they’re nothing more than collateral damage when I turn my world to ashes. It’s not in my nature to love; it’s in my heart to maim. Yet for a long time I thought I understood love and romance.

As someone who defines himself as an aggressive creative, it seemed only natural that my interpretation of the sanctity of true togetherness contained an element of brutality. I spent years believing that true love meant being prepared to burn my world, just to prove my value and my dedication. The problem was that I didn’t know a damn thing about myself or what I was doing. And I’d watch as time progressed and the women I was with started to remove the rose coloured glasses of lust and watch me instead with the wary eye one casts on the damaged and the unstable. I’d take romance, hold it tight, and squeeze until its chest collapsed and it died in my arms.

Pretty scary right? Well recently I have fallen in love with myself, and I’m in the process of choking the fucking life out of that piece of shit. And I’m doing it all in the name of art.

This whole positive writer thing is fucking with me. I mean, I’ve produced some interesting pieces and I’ve had a little fun. But it’s not me. It’s not what I aim for. I want to change the world through my words and if I’m so willing to accept that everything is perfect then what would be the point? I want to draw battlelines, shatter preconceptions, and unlock the minds of the ignorant and enslaved. I want to take your hands and show you a world that you never believed possible. I can still show you beauty and I can still show you compassion. But I can’t do it by being someone so willing to blindly accept that what I am told to believe is beautiful really is.

Beauty isn’t a photograph, a model, or a shitload of likes on a blog or fucking social media account. Beauty is a thought, a feeling, an opportunity that makes you feel alive. Love isn’t about burning the world just to prove your worth, and it’s not about choking something until it dies. Love is about a thought, a feeling, and you guessed it, a fucking opportunity that makes you feel alive. Love and beauty are intrinsically linked and until one is prepared to accept that there is more to their soul than they can ever fully comprehend how can they ever expect to have true wisdom or power?

So here’s to the assassination of Chris Nicholas. That fucking misguided prick who thought that living a life of blind optimism rather than setting alight his heart and soul was wise. Here’s to the return of the aggressive creative who searches endlessly to understand himself and push his mind to places it can never recover from.

The devil is crawling up my back once more and the purging of my weakness has begun.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing

“You all have something to say about me. How can you stop and listen, when all you do is talk?”
-Austin Carlile

I’ve been told recently that my posts are becoming more optimistic and that my readers are actually enjoying the change from my usual anti-everything rants. And if I’m being honest, they have become increasingly positive. I’m in a great place with my writing and it’s an incredible feeling to be able to look back over the achievements I’ve made since my journey as an author began. And even to cast a careful eye over the lower moments and pay homage to their contribution towards what I have accomplished. Right now my work is under review by a number of agents in the US and I’m looking forward to the possibility of things to come. But there’s still a hell of a lot of fight within this troubled author, even when I’m not actively fuelling the fire in my heart. See, right now I’m a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I appear to be placid and placated by my own minor successes, but it’s only so long before I reveal my true nature and tear your fucking throat out.

Oh, shit. Was there a little slice of animalistic rage in that last comment? You better believe it. There’s no denying that I’m a positive headspace as of late, and while it’s wreaking havoc on a mind with a predisposition for tearing itself apart, I’m actually really enjoying myself. I’ve written some fantastic pieces (I’m a little bias here), had some incredible experiences, and been fortunate enough to surround myself with some truly beautiful people. But I’m still a writer driven almost entirely by visions of grandeur and an undying flame of hate. I want to be great. Better than that. I want to be the best. And to be the best you not only have to beat the best, you’ve got to savage them with a viciousness so severe they cower in your presence.

I’ve come to realise that I see myself as a wolf in the world of literature and I’m ok with that. Wolves are strong, vicious creatures and that’s how I’ve always viewed my writing: vicious, raw, and without remorse. If you track back through this page this is actually the third time I’ve used the wolf analogy to describe myself. From the early days of Holding a wolf by its ears to the more recent The wolf you feed, there’s an undeniable theme within my workings and my mind. I’m a wolf and it’s in my nature to both protect and maim. I just chose to do the latter through my literature rather than with my fists or my fangs. Oftentimes I can keep this side of myself at bay, feeding only on the flesh of writers who stand between me and my goals, but lately I discovered there’s something else that unleashes the bastard in me.

It all started like this:

“Chris, I’ve been reading your blog lately. It’s good to see that it’s becoming more positive. But I think that maybe you have had issues with depression in the past.”

No shit. I actually wrote that. So you’re not telling me anything that I don’t already know. I’ve walked through the hells of my own mind and emerged with melted shoes, an axe to grind and an acid tongue. I’m the first to admit that I’ve hit rock bottom in the past. Go back and read the first post I ever wrote on here and you’ll see just how low I sunk. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t writing. I was barely functioning as a human being. But just because I’m prepared to admit this through my own writings it doesn’t mean that I want to discuss it in intimate detail with every fucking person I meet.

Writing is an immensely personal experience, and there are a few select people who I feel comfortable enough to really open up to about how I create. As far as everyone else is concerned, I don’t dwell on what I have written, and I don’t read back over past entries and think wow, I was seriously fucked up there, or gee that must have been a great day! I write. I submit. And I move on, feeling grateful that I was able to share a moment in time with my reader. I don’t need some arm chair psychologist without a degree or a fucking clue telling me how I’m feeling or the primary meanings behind my work; because more often than not, that person is dead wrong.

Lately I’ve submitted a few entries to this site that contain a blog within a blog. Hidden messages and meanings designed to be received and understood by a singular individual, or select audience. It’s something that I really enjoy doing. The duel concept posts are some of my favourite to construct, and while there is more to A bullet with butterfly wings and a few other entries than most people realise, many have still felt as though they can comment on what I have produced. And when they have, the wolf in me has bared its fangs and torn them apart, leaving this author to metaphorically bathe in the blood of their shattered egos like a linguistic Alistair Crowley.

I’m still riding this wave of positivity. I’m still punching out thousands of words on two separate manuscripts and blogging on an increasingly regular basis and enjoying myself as a writer more and more every day. I’ve found myself once more through my craft and I have the world in front of me. I understand for some people the idea of the two duelling wolves of compassion and hate within me are talking points they wish to discuss. But I have a story to tell and if you are constantly trying to tell it for me or judge me based on misguided preconceptions and ideals, you’ll never understand the complexities of me or my works. After all, how can you stop and listen, when all you do is talk?

We can be heroes

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I’ve always wanted to be a super hero. Ever since I was a young I’ve had an obsession with the idea of men and women donning masks, cowls and spandex to stand up against injustice and fight for the weak and oppressed. I used to lay awake at night and stare at my roof wondering what would happen if a radioactive spider were to bite me, or if meteor containing an alien compound was to crash through my roof. I’d stare at the white washed ceiling and create these whimsical tales in my head of what I would do. I’d be a good guy. I’d fight for those who couldn’t fight themselves. I’d solve crimes. I’d get the girl. I’d be a hero…

…Jesus, who am I kidding? I still lay awake and night and wonder what it would be like to be super. I still stare up at the ceiling and imagine just how different my life would be if I were somebody else. Somebody brave.

It’s no secret that I live inside of my own head, and the whole I want to be a hero mentality seems like a logical thought process for a man who considers himself to be different. But for as long as I can remember my idea of being super has extended only as far as spandex and fist fights, and I’ve beaten myself up time and time again for not having the courage to pull on a pair of tights and kick some arse on the streets. Yet for all of my self-loathing over my lack of courage the truth is this: I’d look terrible in a figure hugging suit, and I’ve never been in a fist fight. Chances are if I ever did find the courage to become a hero in this very archaic sense, I’d be beaten to a pulp or killed.

But lately I’m starting to realise that there is so much more to being a hero than the idea of creating a bad-arse pseudonym and fighting crime. Lately I’m realising that we all can be heroes. Every last one of us has the potential to be something extraordinary within them. Take me for example (what a shock that I chose myself!); I’m an extremely flawed character. Or at least I was a few years ago. I like to think that I’ve grown a lot since then. Nevertheless, as I sit here and flesh out this thought process, there is the potential for me to be a hero lying just beneath the surface of who I am….

Bear with me here, because I know that sounded arrogant…

When I started this blog I did so with two goals in mind: The first was to have an outlet through which I could metaphorically slice open my chest and remove the darker impulses of my heart. The second was to create a platform through which I could blog about my journey as a writer. It seems incredible now when I think back about why this all began and realise that while I did manage to cut the depression that plagued me from my soul, I actually spent very little time creating entries specifically about writing. Instead over the past few years I have bungled my way through posts about singularities, Mona Lisa’s, linguistic lenses, and creating your own roadshows.

So why? Why did I deviate from my original concept? And why does this make me a hero? Well, I deviated because it felt right. I’m not an international best seller (yet) and there’s enough amateur authors out there creating how to blogs about topics they have barely grasped themselves that the thought of being just another writer’s blog didn’t resonate with me. My original concept, while noble, just never felt quite right. What felt right for me was to be honest. To open my soul and allow the world to view me for what I really am; a confused, misguided author struggling to make his mark in a world that he often feels doesn’t understand him.

I’m a notoriously reserved man. It takes a lot for me to open up and allow someone to see the real me. Which is probably why I’m currently penning a love story titled vulnerable; the idea of baring my naked soul scares me. I create facades and masks to keep people at a distance while learning everything I can about them. It takes an extraordinary soul to break through my walls, some of my closest friends know little about me and I can think of only one or two people who have ever affected me enough that I have wanted to open up; which is why I’ve always found this blog so cathartic. I’ve managed to carve out a small niche of readers who are willing to accept my failings and allow me the opportunity to express myself while still maintaining some semblance of distance from them.

But perhaps through my gradual immersion into the idea of exposing myself I have become a hero of a different kind. I’m still not pulling on spandex and I’m still not fighting crime, but there is the possibility that through everything I have created here I have unwittingly become a hero to someone else. Perhaps the reason that I decided to create posts about myself and my struggles to find my place within the universe were so that someone, somewhere, could read them and feel inspired to continue on their own journey towards understanding. Or perhaps not. Maybe I’m just getting ahead of myself here. Regardless of whether I am inspiring anyone or not, I have come to realise that there’s more to being a hero I originally thought.

As I said before, we can all be heroes. We can all fight battles for the down trodden and the weak, that are not just physical in nature. They could be mental, emotional, financial, legal, etc. A hero is typically defined as someone who in the face of danger and adversity displays courage and the willingness for self-sacrifice. By that definition a hero could be a father who busts his arse to put food on his family’s table. It could be a soldier standing between the people he aims to protect and the dangers opposing them. It could be a lover offering unconditional support in their partner’s times of need. Or it could be a writer bearing his heart and soul so that others can learn from his shortcomings and mistakes. The possibilities of being a hero are endless.

So why this post? Why heroes? And why should you care? Well, because lately I’ve realised that I spent so much of my youth walking around with head jammed up my arse and a grudge on my shoulders. I failed to realise just how much I had to be grateful for, and how little others had in comparison. A few days ago I started researching charities that I could become involved with so that I could start to show the universe my gratitude for everything that I have been blessed with: family, writing, health, friends, a country where freedom of speech is a right, not a dream. And while I still haven’t selected how I plan on giving back just yet, I’m loving the idea of doing something selfless; of being a hero to someone less fortunate than myself. Just like I have always dreamed of.

So for the first time ever, I’m going to do something a little different at the end of this post. And I’m going to ask you, my wonderful WordPress followers to do something for me. Take this post and do something with it. Invite your friends to read it if you like, or better yet, become a hero in your own right. Do something selfless for someone less fortunate than yourself and take a moment to realise that nothing positive can ever be achieved with a negative mindset. You don’t need a radioactive spider to bite you, or Joe Cool to gun down your family in order to be super, you just have to embrace who you are and allow yourself to become someone else’s hero. We can be heroes. Every last one of us.

God and the Devil

A few years ago one of my favourite bands released an album entitled God and the Devil are raging inside me and right from the moment I first laid eyes on the cover jacket I fell in love. The very idea portrayed in the title was so beautifully macabre that I couldn’t help but be moved by the complexities of human emotion those eight short words could convey. While you’re probably thinking I’m about to slip into another diatribe about my own inner thought processes and compulsions, I’m going to have to say that you’re wrong. We’re not here to rehash just how misguided my head often is, but rather we are going to touch on sometime I started a long, long time ago.

For those of you that have been with me for a while you may remember that in the early days of this blog I regurgitated a quote by comic book writer Alan Moore (I do tend to use quotes a bit in my works). The quote was taken from a short thesis Moore constructed about writing, in which he posited that if a writer wants to continuously improve at their craft they must learn to immerse themselves in the least desirable element and swim. At the time of writing I proposed that if I wanted to continue to grow as a writer I had to venture into a realm that left me with a sense of dread: I wanted to write a love story.

Ever since that post I’ve had a few different attempts at creating a love story, but every time I’ve tried to produce something of quality I’ve found myself with a protagonist who is a real piece of shit. Arrogance, narcissism, and ego seemed to be a common trait in my male leads and the stories would usually crumble pretty damn quickly, and rightly so. Who could fall in love with someone so abrasive? Nevertheless the idea of producing my love story has always been at the forefront of my creative endeavours, becoming the God in my own mental raging when compared to the Devil of my thriller writing.

Lately I’ve been sitting on my hands waiting to see what becomes of my high concept thriller novel Midas, and have been floundering between devoting time to its sequel and this blog. It’s a weird feeling to be creating a sequel to a novel that may fail to become anything more than a document on my laptop, so every time I try to produce a decent follow up I find myself giving up after an hour or two of second guessing and endless self-critique having accomplished very little.

Last night I was determined to write something, so I took to crafting another attempt at my love story rather than screwing around on my sequel once again. I opened up a blank document and started with the word vulnerable as a title. I don’t really know what made me chose the title. Nor do I really know why I chose to start my story in the arm chair of a phycologists office, but over the next few hours I punched out thousands of well thought out words that would become the introduction of my story.

Usually when I write I spend a an hour or two labouring over a thousand words or so before I give up and collapse in an exhausted heap or decide to go shoot hoops. Yet last night I just found myself pouring my soul into the first few scenes of something that actually sounded fucking good. By the time I came up for air I’d plowed through almost five thousand words and blown away any previous records I’d held for productivity. Those words were the most harrowingly honest writing I have ever produced as I created a protagonist whose catalysts and compulsions are similar to my own…

…Stop. Chris just stop. You should never create characters based on yourself. It’s toxic. It’s arrogant, it’s-

-Shut the fuck up. While that’s true, and you should never attempt to create characters in the image of how you perceive yourself this was actually cathartic. I took a long hard look at myself, my failings, and idiosyncrasies and I poured them into a script until I felt something inside me release; as if by unburdening my heart of its own negative inclinations of itself, I had untied the knot in my chest and allowed it relief. Somehow playing phycologist with myself and pressing my mind to answer the questions I’ve spent years trying to avoid allowed me to create something that I felt truly proud of.

While this latest version of my love story is still in its infancy, and still a long way from being well thought out or even remotely ready to present to anyone, there is something quite humbling in the lines I have produced. With a title like vulnerable I decided that I had to be exactly that if I was going to attempt to immerse myself once more in that least desirable element. If I’m going to swim then I need to do it untethered.

So just as God and the Devil are raging inside of all of us, so too are they now raging inside my creative mind once again. I have the God of romance trying to bid for my attention and the Devil of ruin and woe pulling me back to my true passion of thriller writing. Only time will tell if I can sustain the opening pace of my new script, but even if I can’t, just being able to unburden my soul in those opening few thousand words last night was an experience I won’t soon forget. Through my own honesty and self-reflection I now know a different side to myself and have a character that for once doesn’t sound like a fucking dick.

A bullet with butterfly wings

“It doesn’t matter if you fall down; get the fuck back up.”
– James “Buddy” Neilsen.

This post originally came to life a few weeks ago under the title of Trust in Fear. But as the weeks progressed and I procrastinated over whether or not upload it, the premise altered and the original title seemed somewhat counterintuitive. So I sat on the idea and fumbled my way through a few redrafts until very little of the original entry remained and I finally thought fuck it, let’s just bang this out and see what happens. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, today we are talking about dreams.

As you are probably well aware, last month I embarked on a journey halfway around the world to pitch my heart out to the men and women who could ultimately make my dreams of becoming a published author a reality. And, if you were kind enough (or potentially bored enough) to sift through my second to last post you are probably aware that the whole process went pretty damn well. Right now my work is with a number of agencies throughout the United States, and I’m sitting on my hands awaiting a response that could potentially alter the course of my life. I have a dream of being published, and last month I took action.

I can see you rolling your eyes right about now thinking yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before. Your dreams don’t work unless you do, Chris. So what?

Well, maybe it was incorrect of me to say we are talking about dreams per say. Maybe I would have been better off opening with an impassioned speech about failure, because the duo really are inseparable. Just like there would be no heaven without hell, or no light without dark, there can be no dreams or success without the very real possibility of failure. And it’s because of this rather simple analogy that I have come to see everything I ever dream of as a bullet with butterfly wings…

…It sounds poetic doesn’t it? A bullet with butterfly wings; I wish I could take ownership for coining the phrase but I can’t. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine it, two big beautiful wings that unfurl into a glorious kaleidoscope of colour from a hideously dull shell casing with so much potential to maim. It’s beautiful, it’s dangerous, it’s wondrous, and macabre.

Nevertheless I’m learning that just as every cloud has a silver lining, so does every dream of beauty and success have the potential to blow up in your face. Sometimes we take risks to chase down everything we’ve ever dreamed of (like landing a book deal, snagging our dream job, finding a partner, or buying that new car), knowing that the reward if we are successful far outweighs the harm presented to us by that dull shell casing standing in our path. Sometimes we trust in fear and take a leap of faith, because if we don’t; then we’ll spend our whole lives wondering what could have been.

I recently took a leap of faith like this. I’ve taken a couple actually. The New York trip was one that went surprisingly well. But on this particular occasion I found myself attempting to capture the beauty of a bullet with butterfly wings, only for it blow up in my face. In layman’s terms: I fucked up. I took a risk and it backfired, seemingly costing me something rather incredible.

But as much as the wounds from the bullet that pierced my flesh sting right now – in fact it’s my ego that’s hurting the most. There is still always the slightest of chances that the bullet that struck you can still become something beautiful again. Sure, right now it’s damaged, but those big beautiful wings are still there just waiting to unfurl and show you magnificence beyond your wildest imagination. That’s the allure of dreams, and that’s the beauty of failure. Just because we fall, just because we fail or fuck up, it doesn’t mean that we have to give up. In life we are always afforded the opportunity to pick ourselves up off the floor, brush of the dirt that reminds us of our tumble and try again, armed with the knowledge of where we went wrong the first time.

It’s a rather warped analogy I know. But to me as I sit here and lick my wounds and learn from my mistakes, I have the chance to understand just what failure tastes like and how to better prepare myself for the next fall. If my manuscript appraisals amount to nothing and I’m left sitting in the dirt once more I will have the experience to pick myself back up and try again. Dreams only work as hard as you do. And sometimes trusting in fear and taking a leap of faith is worth it, even if you fall and all you achieve is just letting your dreams know exactly what your intentions are. Or even that they are dreams in the first place.

The wolf you feed

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

It turns out that I’ve been feeding the wrong wolf for a long, long time. In my haste to transcend beyond my own limitations as an author and man, I starved the wrong damn wolf and allowed the other to grow fat with the spoils of a one sided war. I’ve always seen myself as different from my fellow man, and I always will. But for a time I thought that because of this altered perspective I needed to fuel my creativity with an abundance of anger, greed, arrogance and resentment. I pushed myself to become a real arsehole because I thought that if I wanted to be more than I currently am I had to really drive home that disconnect between myself and society as a whole. I didn’t just want to be an eccentric and offensive writer. I wanted to redefine what it meant to be different. I wanted people to begrudgingly admire the bastard that I had become.

Jesus, didn’t I mess that up…

I mean what kind of moron not only feeds the wrong wolf but actively goes out of his way to hinder the better angel of his nature? I may as well have pinned the compassionate wolf to the damn floor and exposed his jugular. I’m talking in riddles I know. So let me just say this: I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of pushing others away. And I’m damn tired of actively going out of my way to become that disgruntled, reclusive writer stereotype who is a real arrogant piece of work. You may have noticed that my blogging has been more regular as of late, more focused too – and it’s purely because I’ve learned that feeding the wolf of pure evil has bought me nothing but frustration and heartbreak. So I’ve changed tact, and now I’m focusing more on the beauty in this world and as a result my mind is clearer than it has ever been.

What bought about this change? Well, it’s a long and complicated story made up of many complexities and variables, so much so that I’m not even sure that I understand it myself. So let’s simplify it and say that I starved the compassionate wolf for so long that it did what any other frightened animal would do: it came out fighting. With nothing left to lose and a whole world of inspiration to gain, that sickly side of my heart and mind that I had left neglected limped onto the battlefield and faced off against a stronger wolf comprising of twisted intentions and idiotic arrogance, and kicked its fucking arse. The hatred in me had grown complacent and weak, leaving both itself and me totally vulnerable to a hostile takeover.

But this isn’t the end of my two wolves and their fighting. It’s a never ending battle, just as the old Cherokee told his grandson. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Life is sempiternal. So while right now the compassionate wolf reigns supreme in my mind, the wolf of pure evil has slunk away to lick its wounds and plan its next attack. But unlike my past where I actively fueled the bastard in me, I’m learning to let it fend for itself. That’s not to say that I will starve him though. Because if my current brevity has taught me anything it’s that an animal with nothing left to lose is too powerful to ignore. I’ll always be jealous of the writer who strikes it rich while I still toil away at my manuscripts. That’s human nature, and nothing to be ashamed of. But I will no longer actively feed those negative thought processes. That jealousy will be a result of respect, not abhorrence and hate.

Life really is a beautiful thing, and to be blessed with the gift to breathe a second life to it through literature is something that I will cherish until the end of time. So while I was once fueled by the bitter wolf of greed and hate, wanting only to transcend beyond the man that I am now; I now want to create something that transcends beyond myself and becomes an entity unto itself. I don’t want to be an overzealous and aggressive genius anymore. I simply want to be the man who fell in love with the world and used that inspiration to make beautiful literature.


prove wrong
“Oh, you’re only twenty five?”

Yeah I am. Big fucking deal. Just because I’m a little young to be doing this writing thing it doesn’t mean I’m not ahead of the curb. In fact, for someone my age to be as articulate as I am is a rarity and something that should be celebrated, not looked down upon. Yet for some crazy reason my worth as an author is often judged based on my age rather than its overall merit. People seem all too happy to have me pigeon-holed and compared to their idea of your arch-typical twenty five year old knuckle-dragger, but in reality I am so much more than that guy could ever dream of being. I may seem like a toddler in this industry compared to everyone else and their preconceptions of what an author should be. But I’m not here to play games. I’m here to break open your mind, tear down the walls guarding your heart, and expose you a world that you never even knew existed.

OK. Let’s stop for a second. Because it’s been a little while since I’ve broken into a rant on here and I don’t want to leave any of my readership feeling scorned. So before I descend into a rebellious string of fucks and poorly formulated ideas, I’ll say this: bear with me. There’s a point to all of this… Kind of.

Last month I attended a writing conference in New York City where I met many aspiring authors just like myself who are fighting that seemingly endless struggle to see their work in print. And although our catalysts and compulsions were similar, I was half the age of everyone else in attendance. To me this wasn’t an issue. I’ve always been an old soul; someone more comfortable in a lengthy discussion about the complexities of human nature than I am waiting in line for an overpriced drink in some fucking shit-box of a bar. But for the rest of the attendees at the conference I was somewhat of a side show. You’re how old dear? Oh, still a child! You still have so much to learn about writing, they would say. The truth however is that just because it took them a lifetime to learn how to string a sentence together it doesn’t mean that I’m the same.

So I rode out my time as a sideshow. Smiling politely as they respectfully teased about my age, blissfully unaware that I am ten times the writer that they ever were, or will ever be. They called me dear, and they spoke to me like I was their child (most of whom were older than I am), and I just nodded my head and played the part for their amusement. But by the end of the trip when the golden oldies slunk away from the conference having learned something to improve their craft I had a fucking scrap book full of agents contact details and verbal agreements to have my work to them asap. The point is this: age is a terrible indicator of a person’s catalysts, compulsions, talent or mindset. And to limit your perceptions of me that younger guy who writes is just fucking stupid. Because I’m a hell of a lot better than that; and for me, this is only the beginning of my journey.

Oftentimes when I tell people that I write I’m met with scepticism. It’s nothing much; usually a barely perceptible flaring of the nostrils and the squint of a cynic as people assess my character and my fortitude on the fact that I still look a little young. But you’re so young! They say. What possible life experience could you draw upon to craft something wonderful through literature? Jesus, sometimes it feels as though my whole life is a fucking repeat of that damn conference, even though I’ve got more life experience than most people twice my age. That’s not to say I’ve run the gamut of life and witnessed it all; I’ve definitely seen some shit. But there’s still a big world out there for me to discover and conquer. All I’m saying is that I’m cluey enough to take on board the experiences that I have been fortunate enough to have and learn from them.

So yes. I’m twenty five and an aspiring author. Yes, I’m younger than your average writer by a decade or two. And yes I’ve fucked up a lot of things in the past as you all know through this blog. I’ve thrown away careers, buried friendships, and pushed myself beyond breaking point in order to produce better quality work, but to assess me or my work based on something as trivial as the year I was born seems not only unfair but also a little ignorant. I’m brash, I’m headstrong, opinionated, and when you put a pen in my hand I’m a narcissist in every sense of the word. But I’m also a phenomenal writer and the best damn thing that is going to happen to literature in my lifetime (seriously, watch this space).

So to everyone out there who takes issue with the fact that I am a little under the median age in this business I’ll say this: broaden your horizons, take a chance on a younger author and allow me the opportunity to do everything that I said I would. Let me reach inside your mind and show you a new way of thinking. Let me climb inside your heart and show you love, fear, hatred and compassion in ways that you never believed possible. Lend me your eyes and let me show you a world so inherently different to this one that you will learn to redefine just how beautiful literature can be. Stop judging my work based on my age, because it really can speak for itself. I may be young by writing standards, but my youth provides me the time to grow and develop upon the skillset that is gaining interest.

Frantic Inspiration

“I’ve never wanted anybody more than I wanted you. The only thing I ever really loved, was hurting you.”
-Corey Taylor

Inspiration often strikes at the most inopportune moments. As a writer or artist you can spend weeks floating through life on autopilot trying to piece together where you take a story next, or even what story you wish to tackle next. Then, you’ll find yourself sitting in your work space with an eight hour day stretched out before you when suddenly everything just falls into place and all you want to do is start putting pen to paper and catching the fire burning inside of you.

Today was one of those days. And it all started with the opening lines of this post by vocalist Corey Taylor. The lyrics are ripped from a song released in 2004 by Slipknot titled The Nameless (yep. It’s a music post today), and for the past ten years I’ve found myself continuously returning to this track with a sense of wonder and the thought that there was something I was missing in its construction. On the surface level the song is grotesque. It swings wildly between the adoration and loathing of a lover. Lines of obsession and abhorrence collide in a frenzied cacophony of sound that builds to multiple crescendos before giving way to Taylor lovingly singing the lines above before the frenzy erupts all over again.

It’s frantic, it’s unpredictable, and with the exception of those two lines it’s so conventionally Slipknot that their very inclusion has played at my mind for a decade. Then today as I sat at my desk humming them to myself on repeat and debating where to head next in my creative endeavours they suddenly made sense. There is no lover. Taylor’s not singing about anyone other than himself, or at least in my interpretation he’s not. To me, the song is about a relationship between Taylor and the creative genius in him. It’s almost as though he’s referencing the earliest inclinations of the genius concept, in which one was believed not to be a genius, but to have a genius: a divine entity external to their own being that helped them in their creative practices. Seriously, look it up. A genius in its purest form isn’t a human being, it’s an entity separate to us; a concept that allowed early artists and writers to maintain their own humility when admiration was bestowed upon their work.

But I digress…. Here I was sitting at work with a storm surging through my head as a decade of thought patterns collided and made perfect sense. Taylor’s singing to his genius. He’s crafted an entire song around the loving and loathing that takes place within his mind’s eye as he creates. Here is a man torn between the idea that he wants to create. He wants it more than anything in the world. But he also wants to hurt and destroy the genius inside his head that often leaves him so isolated and distressed. It’s a tragic love story told by a man totally aware of his own shortcomings and one that resonates all too well with me.

I often find myself in a similar headspace. I want to create. I want to write. And I want it more than anything in the world. I’d give anything to carve out a place in the literary world and spend my days crafting literature. Yet at times all I want to do is tear apart everything that I have created and hurt the writer in me. Sadly I’m not yet at that point in my career where writing is my livelihood. I’d love it to be, but I’ve got a long road ahead of me yet. Until that time I’ll continuously work at my craft and I’ll ride out those moments of destructive indifference to my own genius. But thanks to the most unlikely of sources, I’m now more aware of my own inner torments. And I’m thankful that I’m not alone.

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