I don’t like my writing at the moment.
I’ve been doing it for a long time now, have recently rediscovered it and although I’m a long way from getting a gold watch and a pat on the back, I’ve worked hard to develop skills and learn from those with far bigger pencils than I. Over time, I had cultivated a style, a fairly self-deprecating tone which allowed me to stride over bigger topics and subject matter whilst maintaining a sense of lightness and, hopefully, entertainment to my words. I really liked that style, drawing inspiration from the likes of Woody Allen and Peter Cooke, I took an element of myself and extrapolated on it to create a particular angle to my words. Was I really that self-deprecating, did I really think of myself as some comical caricature? Well, perhaps, but it was an honest voice too, reflecting how I really felt and enabling me to give voice to my vision of the world.
Then something terrible happened, something catastrophic.
I became happy.
It crept up slowly but surely, a general sense of well being, contentment even, dread feelings for someone trading on a digestible form of misery! My life had changed drastically and through a lot of very real hurt, confusion and an overwhelming sense of being lost, I had slowly begun to put myself back together again. With the diligence of a blind kid playing with Lego, I rebuilt every aspect of my life, only to find, when all was done, that something crucial was missing.
A lack of self-worth.
What the hell was I going to write about now?!?
Having relied so heavily on a certain voice to get my words across, how could I write now when that voice was gone? I imagine it was what Cat Stevens must have felt like when he became Yusuf Islam, only, you know, with success and money and people knew who he was and didn’t live on no-name brands at the supermarket and stuff.
Although I have not quite found myself in such dire circumstances of joy that I feel the need to turn to God, something almost as bad has begun to occur and I have found myself writing pieces which wouldn’t feel too uncomfortable on the ‘new age’ shelf.
What. The. Fuck?
I try to write with honesty, about the things that are happening to me at the time and, unfortunately, the predominant thing that has been happening to me over the past year or so is change; change in my life, myself, my circumstances. This has lead to the writing of articles that have felt about as much fun as opening your stocking on Christmas morning only to find it full of Eckhart Tolle. Perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps readers will take a lot from my words, but to me it feels a long way off from my desired destination.
Is this what I sat through The Year Punk broke for!? Is this where my humourless and somewhat patronizing commitment to Burroughs, Bukowski, Steinbeck and Kundera during my teenage years has lead me!?! What would Vonnegut think!? What would Dr. Seuss think!?!?!
I worry that words without conflict are empty platitudes. If some kind of internal massacre does not occur whilst crafting your art, then you’re just making episodes of Play School. Of course, this is utter nonsense and I’m sure that the average episode of Play School leaves a substantial amount of blood on the floor during its conception. Yet to me, work that is ‘happy’ but not necessarily ‘comedy’ holds very little interest and without friction, I wonder if art simply becomes uninteresting.
Would Poe have turned to wacky tales of buffoonery involving a flatulent monkey and a joke telling Raven had he been struck down with the malady of happiness? Might Bukowski have written for Hallmark? Would Cobain have joined Nickelback? Dorothy Parker have written a book on baking? Robin Williams have been… well, you get my point.
I have pondered the possibility of driving my proverbial life into a proverbial wall in the hope that making a mess of things might rectify the whole situation. Then I realize that I am a human being and the chances of that happening anyway are as highly probable as Donald trump acting like an arse in a public forum at any given moment in time.
The bigger question, I suppose, is do we create art because of pain or in spite of it? Do we create worth through our art or do we already possess it but can only manifest it through art? Is the only healthy part of ourselves, when in these states of unhappiness the ability to manifest something which is not? To create art? Even art which seemingly celebrates misery is a positive manifestation. It is something, as opposed to nothing. The need to manifest joy probably feels more redundant as it is a state designed to be simply enjoyed, as opposed to unhappiness which is something we strive to escape. Happiness is a warm bath and what is there to really say about a warm bath? Is it not meant to be enjoyed?
Maybe not. Maybe there is a lot to be said about a warm bath.
So for the moment, I will continue writing, forever searching, searching, searching for a new voice, an idea of myself which appreciates warm baths far more than I do now.
The things we do to string words together.