You pick up a pen and you write. Well, not exactly. First you need inspiration. That comes in the waking of dreams, the distance between the spoon and the mouth, or during long jogs alongside the setting sun. It comes in the middle of the night, waking up at 3.35am as you swear and blunder towards the toilet. It comes shrink-wrapped and new, still inside it’s cardboard box. Full of possibilities. And then, as morning dawns, you open it. A single line flutters out of the packaging, disappointing in its brevity.
You cast it aside, perhaps wishing for a more industrious muse, or at least one less fickle. You forget about it. Hidden amidst shopping lists and run timings, inspiration lies discarded as you go about your all-important life, collecting dreams. There, it festers and roils, coming alive in the back of the head, or maybe in the corner of your eyes, until one day, you happen to look down in a fit of boredom. There, at just the right time, in just the right mood, you pick it up, wondering what possessed you to throw it away in the first place.
So now you have inspiration. Or at least you thought you did.
You pick up a pen and you write. You last two sentences, maybe even a paragraph. And then the juice runs out, and you hit the wall. Empty lines mock you. Blank space laughs at your attempts. Words tumble out without grace, without talent. Embarrassed, you stand up and walk away.
You decide that another approach is required. Things need to be shaken up, your life rearranged. Inspiration? Pah. That’s for those who have the luxury of waiting. For you, there is only the promise of hard work, of sleepless nights torturing yourself over unruly lines. A schedule is made, or perhaps appear, as schedules do at times like these. Life is ordered into rank and file.
Now you’re ready. You read. You research. You find a previous flight of fancy and you tone it down into something intelligible. You force open the doors of knowledge and pillage the shelves for something, anything that can be coerced into your masterpiece. You imagine your muse looking on in impotent, jealous anger as you go about your creations without her.
You pick up a pen and you write. You create something decent. At least, you think it’s decent. Some say it is. You’re not sure if they’re just trying to make you feel better, like relatives to a mental patient making fashion of straitjackets. You persevere. Formulas evolve in your head, and you pick up certain tricks that’ll engender the most amount of response. You analyze. You calculate.
You last a week, maybe even a month. And then the fire burns low, and you hit the wall. Empty lines mock you. Blank space laughs at your attempts. Words tumble out without passion, without talent. Embarrassed, you stand up and walk away.
And here comes the trials. Here comes the tribulations. Or at least that’s what you tell yourself as you try not to give up. That’s what you tell others as they give you advice, meaningful words leading you to a reluctant conclusion. Give up. Do something sensible. Writing’s a ‘good hobby’, of course, but if you want to ‘survive in society’, you’re gonna need something ‘more substantial’.
You tell yourself that they don’t understand. You fear that they do.
You look up at the world. Around you, thousands of aspiring writers make it big. Hundreds of them strike gold. Your favourite author praises this guy who’s just posted the most beautiful piece of prose you’ve ever read. He’s sixteen. You look up at the world. Around you, hundred thousand others fail. A million stories created are never read. Why?
Why the fuck do people torture themselves like this? Why the fuck are you cursed with this stupid dream? Is it because there’s nothing else that you can do? Is it passion, or is it self-denial? What do you want from this?
You rage and you doubt.
You pick up your pen and you write. Write your feelings out onto the paper, watch as the words burn in cursive along crooked lines. Your anger flares up a passion you’d hitherto thought dead, or at least slumbering. Pages come and go, fast and strong. And you almost let yourself believe that you’ve found the answer.
Then you hit the wall. Faltering lines mock you. Blank space laugh at your attempts. Words tumble out without meaning, without talent. Embarrassed, you stop and stare.
And then you laugh. And you pick up your pen. And you write.
Because there’s no easy answer. There’s no dramatic pause before the earthshaking revelation, no one-liner that can fill this void. There’s no method, no rhyme or reason, only entropy sniggering behind your back as you flail about. There’s no logic, no artistic grace. Only the sick feeling of fear in your stomach, the soaring of your soul amidst the surfacing lines, the temporary pride as you survey your creations. Only satisfaction mixed with trepidation, magic mixed with calculation, and the soft tugging of dreams just woken from. Only the feeling of being alive.
Because you pick up your pen and you write. And that’s all that matters.
My Chemical Romance’s Singles → Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys.