My Write to Live

blood on paperWhen I was a teenager I had suicidal thoughts, and on some unfortunate occasions, suicdal tendencies. I was bullied by the other kids and wanted to turn to the school staff for help, but most of the teachers I had were authoritatian tyrants or simply uncaring of my well-being. A vice principal I once had talked at me with throwaway advice without taking any time to understand how I truly felt. That same vice principal would later in the year fail to prevent a fist fight I got into, even though I had provided him a ton of evidence it was going to happen. Needless to say, I didn’t have the school staff’s trust because whenever I would defend myself from bullies, I would be the one who would get in trouble and shamed for my behaviour, for my emotions. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, not even my own family, I felt completely and utterly alone.

Or so I thought.

One of the few things I would find solace in was the music of Korn,along with other angsty nu-metal bands, but Korn was my all time favourite since I was a kid. I related to the raw frustration Jonathan Davis’ lyrics were written with and they inspired me to write some of my own in the same vain. Whether the lyrics were about the bullies I wanted to take down, the girls who rejected me, or the general feeling of emptiness by the end of the school day, I wrote lyrics to release these feelings somewhere safe where I wouldn’t get in trouble or be shamed for my behaviour, or my emotions.

Fast forward to my adult years, there was a time where my life was falling apart far worse than I had experienced in my teen years. To name very few issues I had out of a myriad of others, I was getting into intense fights with my family, had to leave a writing critique group due to fundamental philosophical differences, and worst of all found out that an ex-girlfriend of mine had committed suicide.

It was August 2014, I was unemployed and directionless. I had very little money left from a caregiving job I was severely underpaid for and felt empty. Now having grown up and survived my adolesence, I no longer contemplated suicide, especially considering the tragedy of my ex-girlfriend. I no longer cut myself and no longer imagined myself beating my chest until my heart gave out, but I still felt like my life was meaningless and that I didn’t have much reason to live.

Not until I journaled about everything that has been going on for me at the time. Not until I remembered that I had a half finished 2nd draft of a novel just sitting on my computer left untouched for many months. That novel of course was It Starts at Home, the very same anti-child-abuse themed novel that I had fundamental philosophical differences about with my writing group, likewise with my family, both of which, of course, are stories for another time.

For many months after leaving my writing group, I felt discouraged from ever writing again. But when I got back into it and got on my way to completing the second half of the 2nd draft, those feelings of inadequacy and meaninglessness disappeared. Those feelings of regret over my existence were all gone as well, for I rediscovered the joy and meaning I found in writing this story. Sure I picked myself up, applied for work, and got two jobs I put a ton of passion into, but they could never compare to my true calling. My true calling that I drowned out with the noisy distraction called “work.”

Of course! The answer to the question “what am I gonna do with my life?” has been right in front of me all this time, right under my nose, hiding in plain sight: I need to write.

And I stress the word need because writing is a necessity to my life just as much as blood is. To me there is no difference between the blood that drips through my veins, and the ink I bleed on to the page.

I was born a writer. Even when I was as little as seven years old I would skip school to write stories and draw comic books. I’m in love with stories. Whether they’re acted out in a TV show or film, printed in a book or set of lyrics, stories are what makes my life worth living. Not to mention the stories of our lives as I also find a great interest in the real life stories of those around me. All of our lives on this planet are a bunch of stories complete with their own twists and turns, character development arcs, and crossover narratives.

Stories, in any form, help me feel like I’m not alone. To know that others feel the same way I do about life and the human condition, that makes my habitual confusion and anxiety managable. From the lyrics and books I’ve read, movies and TV shows I’ve watched, all my favourite stories have resonated with me on an emotional level. They put the storm in my head into words and action, sequenced in honely crafted narrative that express the growth of character and the universal human desire to overcome life’s many obstacles.

As a writer, this is what I want to achieve. I want to strike a chord in those who read my lyrics, comfort those who will read my books, and let them know that all these confusing and conflicting emotions are all part of simply being human, and although there is no cure to them, they can be managed and understood.

As a writing coach, this is what I want to inspire in other writers. I want to help other writers, as I’ve painstakingly helped myself, to realize the power they have in putting their innermost vulnerable thoughts into the written word. The power to make readers, like myself, feel a lot less alone when life gets them down and when meaning seems all but lost.

The written word is My Write to Live.

It’s Your Write to Live.

 

Music as a Milestone Marker

Music-is-the-fire-in-my-heart-music-35607170-471-458For the first decade of my life, I actively avoided music, but now I can’t go a day without listening to it. In the past month, I have spent $100 getting new albums from Rock bands I recently discovered. I. Can’t. Stop.

When I was growing up, though, everybody listened to Rap and R&B. I kept hearing the same songs everywhere and I couldn’t stand the lack of variety beyond the top hits. I have nothing against these genres– in fact, I actually have phases where I’ll listen to nothing but Rap and R&B–but it just wasn’t for me at the time.

The only music I ever enjoyed came from TV shows, movies, or video games. Otherwise, I never sat down and listened to anything for its own sake. But then came one of my favourite video games from my childhood, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kongquest. There was a level called Bramble Blast where most of it consisted of shooting Diddy and Dixie Kong through a bunch of barrells and the background music for the level was incredibly relaxing! Perhaps to contrast the chaotic nature of the barrells.

I was so enamored by this well crafted composition that I paused the game and listened to the song for about an hour. To this day, listening to Stickerbrush Symphony still captivates me with its simple and catchy melodies. From that point on, I had much more appreciation for the rest of the game’s music score, which I believe is still one of the best OST’s in gaming history.

David Wise, thank you for pushing the SNES’s 16-bit instrumentation capabilities!

When I beat the game and stopped playing it, I was left without music once again. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a music video featuring an animation with the art style of Todd McFarlane, the artist and creator of my then favourite comic book character Spawn. That music video, my friends, was for Korn’s hit single Freak on a Leash.

That was when I realized Rock music was my natural element. I just love how the combination of guitars, bass, and drums can produce so many different styles of music alone. Whether the guitarists use clean channels and/or distorted tones–or in Korn’s case, a crap ton of FX pedals–I’m always up for a rockin’ riff that gets me headbanging. Especially if the band’s got a great vocalist who can belt out the power vox! Can I get a “hell yeah”?

I’ve since listened to other genres of music throughout my lifetime from Dubstep to Lounge, Trip-Hop, Pop and much much more, but the music I always find myself listening to is some sort of Rock. This could range from Metal, Mathrock, or even Pop Punk–WHATEVER! I’m not here to impress you with the long list of bands and genres I’ve listened to.

The point is; I’ve listened to a kaleidscope’s variety of stuff lo’ these past two decades or so.

Each and every band, and genre, is associated with a certain point in my life, and I am instantly reminded of those eras of my life whenever I go back in my collection and listen to something I haven’t listened to in a while.

Korn reminds me of my early teen years battling with anger and depression, the DnB, Trip-Hop, Lounge, and Ambient music reminds me of when I learned to relax a little more in my early 20’s. Fast forward to today, the vast collection of new Rock albums I bought recently will remind me of this particular time in my life where I’ve finally become comfortable with myself having delved deeply into self-knowledge and greatly improving my life circumstances.

I see music as a way of marking milestones in your life. When you spend enough time listening to a certain artist during a high or low point in your life, you’re training your brain to associate those tunes with that specific place in time.

After all, the media we consume is a reflection of who we are, it’s a piece of us. It’s how we identify ourselves in the world. By empathizing with the expression of art, we let it speak for us when we don’t want to explain ourselves, or we let it embellish our inner most thoughts and desires. Why do you think so many songs are about finding love?

Our particular tastes and preferences in music, art, and literature all have something to say about us. This is why we enjoy sharing these things with those we love. Understanding what others are entertained by is a quick way to understanding how they think and feel about themselves and the world.  All you gotta do is ask why it moves them so much, and they’ll tell you everything you need to know about them.

Do you have any favourite artists you’ve listened to consistently throughout your life? Or on and off for any particular reasons?

Do you continuously seek to expand your music library? Do you have any favourite artists that invoke particular memories whenever you relisten to them after taking a long break?

For anything else music related and how you relate to it, let me know what you think in the comments below!