If I were to dig out all of the old posts that used to be on this blog, you would find a distinct pattern emerging. It’s probably best described as extended periods of silence, punctuated by occasional short bursts of activity. In fact, it got so bad at one point that I closed the whole thing down and just left it alone altogether.
When I started it up again over two years ago, I had intended that it would be updated more frequently, cover a broader range of subject matter and contain a lot more interesting and useful stuff. What I did not intend was that it would simply fall back into the old pattern of disuse.
Yes…well, anyone who looks through the list of posts here will see that it’s pretty much been two more years of the same old same old.
All of which has regularly left me wondering why this should be the case. I know that, in the past, I have either been too busy to write or, when I had the time to write, I didn’t feel that I had anything particularly worth writing. More recently, I’ve had enough time, but it has still come down to the problem of feeling that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say. Not that that kind of thing seems to present a problem to all blog authors. Let’s be honest, there is something a little narcissistic about writing a blog (just as there is with all the other online social media stuff) and there are definitely some folks out there who have the narcissism thing down pat. However, I’ve never really been one of them.
So why the public soul-searching now I hear you ask? After all, wittering on about why you write (or don’t write, as the case may be) is about as narcissistic as it gets isn’t it? Well, yes, maybe it is but I’ve only recently come to realise that there might be an important and useful lesson in it all – not only for me but for anyone who is trying to find their way in any kind of creative or expressive endeavour. It’s all about finding your voice.
This could, quite literally, mean your actual, real voice (if you’re a singer or want to become one) but, to a writer, it means finding your own particular subject (or subjects) and style of writing. To an artist or photographer, it means your own particular imagery and your own way of representing it and then presenting it to an audience. To a musician, it means finding your particular genre (or genres) and style of playing. And so on and so forth. It’s all about finding a voice – identifying the things that you want to express and the ways in which you want to express them.
And you know what? It’s quite tricky. Or, at least, it can be. It’s also one of those things that will inevitably change and develop and mutate over time as you gain in knowledge, experience and self-understanding.
All in all, it’s a bit of a sod. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a common reason for people ultimately abandoning creative or artistic aspirations of any sort. Of course, the difficulty of making a go of it almost certainly comes into it as well – making a living as an artist or writer or musician or whatever isn’t an easy option most of the time. Our modern materialistic society is very good at conditioning us not to follow those kind of dreams, but to conform, be “sensible”, settle down, have a career and buy into the whole system. So we end up working in factories and offices, watching the clock and knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. We end up suppressing our voice and losing the chance to develop it and hear it sing. And that is very sad indeed.
OK, so what do we do about it?
Well, I guess the thing that I’ve come to realise is: if it’s important to you and you want to make a go of it somehow then you don’t give up. Even when it feels pointless or that you’re wasting your time or that it’s a stupid thing to be doing and you should be getting on with being sensible and doing all the mundane stuff that society expects, you don’t give up. Even if you just have to grab five minutes here or ten minutes there, you don’t give up. Even if you only manage to do a few things or work on whatever you’re trying to do once in a blue moon, you don’t give up.
You do worry that it seems to take so long. You do sometimes feel like you’re going nowhere or just buzzing around in ever decreasing circles. You do wonder whether you’re just playing silly games and chasing some fantastical will o’ the wisp. All of those things happen at some point and you think about just surrendering and giving up on it all. But you keep on coming back to it, even if it takes months or years. And slowly, eventually, you come to realise that the only way to get past all that stuff or get out of the rut is to keep on trying.
It’s not going to be easy.
It’s not necessarily going to work out all of the time.
There’s even a fair chance it might never work out at all.
But even if it doesn’t work out, your life is still richer for doing it. Finding your voice and occasionally letting it out to sing, scream or shout from the rooftops will always be good for you in the long run.
Even if it takes years of searching, false starts and failed attempts. I know – I’m still looking…