Hardcore

Today I am going to play the iconoclast.

Writers are getting a bum rap, yo. We are seen as these sniveling little Woody Allen types hunched over keyboards. We’re so touchy when people don’t get us that we drown our sorrows in fine wine.

You think I’m that runny-nosed, bespectacled ninny? You see me wearing vintage cardigans in a ramshackle apartment full of meaningful eclectic curios?

I’ve got news for you, bro. I’m hardcore. Now let me tell you why.

Everybody wants to be a writer

Easy measure of hardcore: how many wannabes are there out there? Count the aspiring writers. Count the number of guys who want to write a book. This kind of imitation has to be worth some street cred.

Without writers there are no stories

We are responsible for masterpieces and disasters. An idea is the most powerful thing in the world, so the guy that writes down that idea is wielding a truly remarkable weapon. People go to war due to ideological disputes. Millions die. A movie or book can plant the idea that starts the next revolution.

Stop kicking us out, Mr Jones. Your daughter is doing well to hook up with somebody who wields these kind of weapons. Find me an accountant (barring the Parmalat and Enron guys) who has the potential to make this kind of impact.

Writers eat rejection for breakfast

Now we’re getting to the serious hardcore. Nobody likes rejection. Writers get it in their breakfast bowl on a daily basis.¬† No milk and sugar on this one, son. This breakfast tastes like despair. We pour heart and soul into a project. We don’t let a stupid thing like reality hold us back. We’re more persistent than telesalesmen. Sadly, most of the time that ends in disaster. Most of us only ever meet with disappointment. This should put me off, but it just encourages me more. Why? Because I’m hardcore.

In fact, right now I’m inviting you to buy my work and insult me. Tear it to pieces, come on here and make a fool of me. (is this an obvious ploy? I hope not)

Also, because writers are generally such sensitive folk, we feel things deeply. Being rejected isn’t such a big deal if you don’t care much about what you’re doing. This is seldom the case with writers. When you write something, it’s like your little ridiculous child. Imagine seeing your ridiculous little fat child being rejected when he tries out for the softball team. Dealing with that is hardcore.

Writers face fear

I’ve saved the best till last. Somebody who tells you they’re never afraid is either lying, deluded or insane. Fear is a natural thing. It’s being able to face fear that makes a person courageous.

Writers have several fears that hound them on a daily basis. Fear of a blank page, fear of rejection, fear of failure. Sometimes your introspection gets so convoluted that you start to wonder if anything makes sense. You doubt your own reason, especially when 50 Shades of Grey and David Ike are making McDonalds numbers (as Ludacris said, yo) and nobody seems to like your great literary masterpiece. It becomes hard to decide whether something really is any good after all.

But we’re like the terminator. We just don’t stop.

You will have to kill me to stop me writing. My severed fingers will continue to tap the keyboard.

Look into my red eyes. (Admittedly it’s from staring at a computer screen, but the similarity is not purely co-incidental) I am a writer. Now tell me I’m not hardcore.

Artistic Aspirations

So you woke up this morning dissatisfied. Your day-to-day life is somehow insufficient. It might not be extreme discomfort, but there is a lack of fulfilment. You wonder if what you are doing really matters. You start to have one of those existential crises.

I have those too. Almost every day. I am a writer; this sort of omphaloskepsis is what keeps me going.

So deep into your existential crises, you pop online and start questioning the modern equivalent of the Oracle of Delphi. Yes, Google. You hammer out some search phrases in the hope that some existentially-adept individual will come to your rescue.

If that was how you found this post, Google failed you. I am just as confused as you are.

There was a time when life was simple. You’d run away from predators, eat, fall asleep under a tree and thank your lucky stars you weren’t chewed to pieces. Your life was pretty pointless … or was it? I don’t know what I would have done back then. I would have been too busy trying to find something to eat to spend much time or energy on things like this blog. I don’t think cavemen were big on blogging.

Today, we are even more confused than the poor cavemen trying to decide what to do next, naked in the forest. Now we’re clothed with an illusion of certainty that tells us we are supposed to know what we are doing.

But we are still naked in the forest.

Isn’t it strange that as the dominant species on this planet, we are basically enslaved by work? And the majority of work is painfully boring and repetitive. Surely we could have made things a bit more fun for ourselves by now!

You are supposed to follow your passion, but good luck finding it. Mark Cuban wrote a nice post about this vaunted ideal. You won’t have a chance to really explore the world because we have to get you specialised and schooled and ready for corporate life as quickly a possible. There is no time to lose worrying about a meaningful life. These silly things pale in comparison to the importance of a reliable income.

And good luck if you want to be a writer, a musician, an artist. You are screwed. Everybody tells you that you must follow your dream, but looks down on you for doing so. The struggling musician is seen as a ne’er do well. People either encourage him unconditionally or condemn his aspirations as unrealistic. Often both. The passionate writer is doomed to eventually give in and write the next 50 Shades of Despair. Of course you should follow your passion, provided that passion is commercially viable. Otherwise don’t think you’ll be marrying my daughter, Mr-Passionate. Take your guitar and your delusions elsewhere. Go get a real job.

Without those guys who take chances and follow their passion, there would be no writers, musicians or artists. We would have a pretty grim world to live in. But nobody is supposed to do it unless it is commercially viable. But it won’t be commercially viable when you start, but you must follow your passion, no matter what. But you’re a failure if you don’t earn enough money. You’re a freak and a mess if you don’t have an orderly life.

So make up a passion that works and follow it. Be yourself provided you’re just like me.

I’ll be proud of myself if I can face that gaping uncertainty. To say that I didn’t know if anybody would like my work. To give up my starry-eyed illusions of certain success and trade them for the courage and fortitude to accept the possibility of failure … and to keep writing anyway.

Last night I had dreams of disaster. I felt the devil’s hot breath on the nape of my neck. My responsibilities, the pressure of running a functional life, the infinite amount of energy that has to be expended to be Nicholas Cross, writer.

I woke up this morning dissatisfied, just like you. I faced the blank page. I wrote this blog post and now I’m inviting you to condemn my artistic aspirations.

We writers are crazy, aren’t we?