The lonely process and the linguistic lens.

Creative writing, in any form, be that short stories, flash/micro-fiction, poetry, lyrics, novels or novellas, can be an harrowingly lonely process. Any writer worth their salt (and even some that aren’t) will tell you that spending your days staring at a lecture pad or computer screen can feel incredibly isolating. Sometimes it feels as though the world is passing you by while you stare in mild confusion at your own creation, wondering just how the fuck you managed to digress so far from your original thought process that you can’t even fathom what plot line or stanza comes next.

So why do we do it? Why do writers withdraw from a world filled with so much wondrous beauty and choose to spend their days attempting to take a crisp white page and fill it with little black letters? While every single writer will have a different answer to this question, there are a few general pigeon holes that most writers’ catalysts can be crammed into. But almost every writer (aspiring, published, or otherwise) across the globe will tell you that we do what we do because we have stories to tell; stories that we want to share with the world.

My reasoning for writing is simple: I’m a fucking terrible photographer. As much as I would like to tell myself otherwise, the truth is that when I’m handed a camera I just can’t manage to do justice to the incredible people, places or things I am trying to capture. So, rather than fail miserably at capturing moments in time that will allow the world to see itself through my eyes, I write. I create a linguistic reimagining of everything that I see, everything that I imagine, and everything that I dream of, and arrange it all into a string of tiny black letters printed across a crisp white page. I truly believe that this world is a wonderful, frightening, beautiful and hideous place all rolled into one, and if I can’t manage to capture its strength and fragility through the lens of a camera, I will create my own.

Since my last blog, which was in fact my first, I feel as though I have continued to grow as a writer. I gained an incredible amount of confidence that I never would have achieved had I not dared to post online. And although it has taken a long time to follow up on that initial post, I’ve learnt something very important; at times writing can feel as though it is an incredibly lonely process, but it also gives you the opportunity to reach out and connect with people in ways that you never imagined possible. Good writing, and by good writing I mean well structured, coherent writing (as opposed to the woefully bad shit you see clogging up newsfeeds on social media sites every day) is an art form, and really must be treated as such. There is something inherently beautiful about a piece of literature that has the power to make someone, somewhere, feel something. And as a writer constantly working towards creating something of value, that will more often than not be lost amongst the abundance of artworks created by other aspiring artists, it is such a humbling experience to have someone tell you that what you have created has touched them in some small way.

My first blog was a very personal reflection of myself and the unfortunate circumstances that would take me to the depths of depression, and leave a tarnished, battered effect on my linguistic camera’s lens. Yet in my evolutionary path of creating little black letters, this depression was an entirely necessary component of my journey towards becoming a better writer. Alan Moore once wrote that as a writer you need to immerse yourself in the least desirable element and swim. For me personally, my least desirable element was admitting my depression to the world and standing tall while it judged me for my grievances. But when I did so, when I immersed myself so completely in an element that could have swallowed me whole, I found that the positive words of my family and friends gave me the strength and courage to swim harder than I ever had before. And when I emerged from that hellacious swim, the tarnished battered effect that had skewed my linguistic camera’s lens was washed away, so that now the world resembles what it truly is: a wondrously hideous, beautifully monstrous place.

Any writer worth his salt will tell you that the process of writing can be harrowingly lonely, but they will also tell you that writing can bring you closer to your family and friends than you ever thought possible.

My First Foray Into The World Of Weblogs

A few months ago I decided that I wanted to write a blog. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make; I didn’t undertake any ground breaking epiphany during which I decided that the world would be forever enriched having received my innermost thoughts on a sporadic basis. Rather, I simply stumbled upon the idea whilst sitting at my computer staring at a horrifically blank white page pondering how on earth I was going to break through a case of writer’s block that had besieged me for what would eventually add up to almost twelve months. You see, I am a writer. Or at least I would like to be, and therefore that case of writer’s block had become the bane of my existence. As it would eventually turn out, my problems actually ran a lot deeper than mere writer’s block, and it’s only now in hindsight that I can see the where my lack of enthusiasm to create stemmed from. So after months of procrastinating to avoid following through with my plan to blog, here it is, my first ever foray into the online world of web logs. I am now one of billions of undereducated, over opinionated and outspoken bloggers clogging to internet with their bullshit. Enjoy.

The aforementioned writer’s block was the by-product of what Lemony Snicket would call a series of unfortunate events that had taken place between February 2011 to August of the same year. To summarise some of the turbulent events that shaped those six months; I relocated interstate to attend university, sending myself broke in doing so (at times skipping meals because I couldn’t afford to feed myself). I witnessed a car accident in which a young mother lost her leg, administering first aid and phoning her husband to notify him of the incident. I travelled overseas. My father suffered an aortic aneurism and almost died, being airlifted to hospital for emergency surgery; his subsequent illness and road to recovery seeing him fall into financial difficulty for a few troublesome months. My younger brother suffered from anorexia nervosa, and subsequently failed to attend school before eventually leaving to pursue a career. And through all of this and more I worked my fucking arse off just to keep myself afloat and the debt collectors at bay.

Then, in late July of 2011 a funny thing happened, I found half an hour to write a short story that I submitted to the Heading North Young Writer’s Competition, and guess what? I won.  I kid you not. Through the eye of the storm that had become my life, a small victory was afforded to me for my toils. As part of the prize for winning this competition, I was awarded a seat on a panel of young writers at the 2011 Byron Bay Writers Festival, as well as a mentorship at the Northern Rivers Writers Centre. And for the first time in a very long time, things were looking up. I attended the festival, and spoke on the panel, even getting a few words of praise for my words. Then almost as soon as the incredible elation of this small achievement subsided, the depression hit and I stopped writing completely.

I call it depression upon reflection, here is where the hindsight I have previously alluded to comes into play. At the time I called this affliction writer’s block. Because that’s what it felt like; it felt like all of the turbulent experiences of the preceding six months manifested as one and built a roadblock inside my head that was trapping all of my creative thoughts. There were no inconsolable moods or days where I thought the world was not worth living in, no, there was just an extreme lack of enthusiasm to sit at my computer and create. Here I was, a young writer on the rise, with a mentorship to prove it, and I couldn’t think of anything remotely creative, inspiring, or interesting to put onto paper. So I abandoned it. I failed to undertake the mentorship and I packed my computer in its case, let my notepads of ideas gather dust and I walked away.

That’s pretty much how my writing implements remained for nine months, save for  the occasional attempts to write something imaginative enough to earn me a pass at university. I didn’t write, I barely read (when usually I would devour novels with an insatiable lust), and somewhere along the line I managed to shed ten kilograms of bodyweight from anxiety. At the time I was stressed to the max, I was pushing myself harder and harder with work, and the gym, all while trying to solve my family’s problems from four hours’ drive away, while burying my own. My life became a relentless grind, and I was too rundown and exhausted to realise it. And all the while I was depressed and angry because I had abandoned the one thing that had always kept me level headed; writing.

Then, after nine months hovering in a bullshit limbo of confused thoughts and no creativity, I decided to write a blog; this exact blog as a matter of fact. But at the time I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared to face the fact that I was miserable and depressed, so I began writing stories as a means of procrastination. I started with something short; a thousand word piece of shit in which I managed to dump all of the rust accumulated on my mind into a menagerie of poor grammar, a shonky plot, and all round terrible writing. Then I started to branch out; to take on longer projects, and before I knew it I was writing almost every day, tracking my progress in each session with word lengths, content and thoughts upon reflection. And somewhere in all this writing, in all this time huddled away from the world, away from the demons that had crawled up on my bed and wrapped their fingers round my throat, I found happiness in what I was doing. I found the ability to let go of my nightmares, cast aside the shackles of dejection that had bound me, and let those that I love the most fend for themselves.  My father took greater care of himself, my younger brother discovered a passion that would help him overcome his illness, and my zest for life that I had always known lay dormant inside of me returned with unparalleled gusto. I found myself in my writing.

That was a couple of months back now, and during that time my life has turned a lot of corners. I am writing as much as I can, whenever I can, about whatever I can, and I am loving every single moment of it. I’ve also decided that I am going to spread my wings and swan dive headfirst into the writing industry again (my last two attempts saw me land a contract that turned out to be bogus, and fall agonising short of seeing my work in print with a legitimate print company), and I’ve even decided to chase up the writer’s centre and see if they will honour my mentorship from last year. I know that the chances of this are slim, but as I have learnt over the past year, you never let an opportunity go to waste; so if hassling the shit out of a desk jockey in Byron Bay helps put my career on the right track, then that poor woman has no earthly idea what she’s in for. My mind is creating stories again; stories that I want to share with the world.

So here we are, sink or swim time. Either I make it in this industry or I don’t. If I succeed then that’s great. If I don’t, then at the very least I want to be able to say that I gave it my best shot. Ten years from now, I want to be able to say that I had what it takes to look depression and misery in the eye, and tell it to fuck off.

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