Updated: Jan 1, 2022
I just started watching 'The Midnight Gospel' on Netflix. It's fucking weird, but 2 episodes in and there are a couple of ideas that seem to hit a note with the way I think. Episode 2 has inspired me to write this on the principality of lacking inspiration when you're content.
I keep getting hits of inspiration which never actually amount to anything. I'll watch something, or I'll hear something, read something, and think "Fuck! I need to do something". By the time I begin to motion to move toward my devices of actuation, the wave has past, and is replaced by the crash of negativity that says "Nah, there's no point."
The songs I've written, with the most recent being a demo from 2018, have all been created when I was at a low point. When I was feeling particularly conflicted about something, fearful, or sad. The songs I consider to be the best of my creation were made out of the depths of despair and melancholy.
Most music you hear has a sombre undertone, or even overtone. They are alluding to or are about a situation or aspect that causes distress. Love songs about those you can't have, destroyed hopes and dreams, fear of not attaining that which you wish to attain, and it's true. How many songs can you think of that are fuelled by positivity? (Here you go listing thousands...)
I keep my despondency undercover, hidden, and only exposed or even mildly addressed to those extremely close to me. I have done so since becoming a sentient adult, because despite the surge and charitable pushes these days for alleviating the stigma of mental health issues, the truth is, nobody really wants to hear it. Most people, still, enjoy living in their bubble of pretense, because those who haven't addressed issues within themselves, don't want to, and thinking about them within others, forces them to confront their own demons, and if you're used to doing that throughout your life, particularly once you've reached adulthood, well for the most part, that's the way it's going to remain.
Personally, I hold it back, because I restrict an ego that secretly loves attention. Truth be told, I like when the spotlight is on me, but being aware that the light only burns for so long, I don't like the fact it fades. I'll get what I want, for a few moments, then it's gone and I'm pushed back into obscurity once more. This is true for me be it a story at a dinner table, or the share of 'originality' on social media. In the same way that videos go viral out of nowhere, that some creators struggle to hold onto the attention they received in a sudden flash.
I'm inconsistent with my creations. When I'm in my depths of despair, I turn to music and film, I write, I create, and I express myself through my own conceptions, and the catharsis works. I'm outside of myself, ignoring the need to maintain any form of barrier, or to hide myself, because sometimes, there's someone at mind that actually, I want to see my machination, and understand. When there's no agenda 'per se' , then all of a sudden I'm thinking of it in more of a professional sense: if it's good, if it will be liked. The difference being that when I'm not creating with an agenda, the ones I'm attempting to please, is a unanimity...An impossibility.
Where is my inspiration now?
I'm ok now. My relationship is the healthiest I have ever had, and has a high probability of lasting the test of time, and my career has stability. Albeit a career that is juxtapose with my inner aspirations. I have a career that offers growth if I want it, a sustainable relationship, and enough money to make ends meet. That's the societal dream right, that's what we're raised to believe that we should be working towards right? With a clear trajectory so long as I adhere to the path.
This is not happiness. This is happiness as dictated by our westernised propagandised sense of happiness. This is contentment. Contentment which imprints upon my creative abilities, by taking away from my inspiration. Or at least, that is how it seems.
'The Midnight Gospel' Season 1, Episode 2, there is mention of Anne Lamott's alcoholism, and how before she got sober, she had already established her career, and that in giving that up and going sober, there was a fear that her writing would not be as good, that she wouldn't be able to create, that maybe she "needed the misery" in order to create quality content.
Except for me, there's not much fear of me being 'as good' as my former creations, as I am apprehensive over the quality of my earlier content, and my explorations going forward to myself often appear to be too similar to each other to proceed with. But these days, I don't really want to, or care about being "good". I just want to create, for myself, and be proud of what I have created before I share it. Yet the inspiration to put pen to paper, or pick to string, or finger to key, seems to be largely amiss.
Whilst I am subject to being inspired by the artistic expressions I indulge in, I seem to be uninspired by my life to make these expressions a reality. The irony being that, in conversations, nobody really wants to hear about your darkness, yet in music, it speaks to us. Just as I would endeavour to communicate in my youth, only to find that as an established adult, I have no darkness to communicate.
Further irony, complaining about not being happy as a teen, to later complain about being contented as an adult...Nothing is ever enough, I guess.
Perhaps the bigger problem is that in resolving my past issues, or in believing that I have, I am unable to address them. Have I truly surpassed and overcome my obstacles, or have I buried them under the guise of time?
Perhaps the inability to draw upon grief from the past in an effort to inspire musical creations alludes to the latter, or perhaps I have in fact closed the door to my former confrontations, and by doing so am now unable to draw upon them.
A lot of the situations I put myself in over the years that would inspire my music, are those that would cause embarrassment, and the thought of sharing my music as an adult also embarrasses me, because I'm trying to draw attention to myself, and if it sucks, then I'm drawing attention to myself in a negative way, rather than a positive or funny way.
I would never dream of ever putting myself back in the incongruity of my youth, but I definitely feel like in having taken the positive steps in my life of addressing my issues and overcoming obstacles, I have potentially taken away my ability to create music, so far as to say, if I sit down to do it, the inspiration is significantly lacking, and I would rather disappear into the escapism of TV, film, or videogames.
If negativity and creation is conjoined, it certainly explains in a religious sense why the world is so fucked up.
We all do things for ourselves, to sate our own ego. In my youth this was writing songs to express my tribulation, in order to obtain sympathy, or to sway those who may have influenced my musings, naturally, to no avail. Now, my objective and aspiration with music is to reassess what it means to me, and only me, and to learn and pursue creation for the agenda of pleasing only myself.
In the same way that with relationships you need to love yourself before you can love another, I need to indulge in my own creations and admire them, before I am able to share them.
Perhaps there is a part of me that is expecting that this will be a singular session, one little sit down at the computer and a twiddle on the guitar and boom, I'm making music. Realistically, it can't be that simple, it's a long road.
Being contented doesn't make artistic expression impossible, everybody has different influences and inspirations, and perhaps there are some out there who create best when contented. But for me, I'm used to the opposite, and so this factors in to when I say I need to "rediscover what music means to me", because if it's not an expression of anguish and self discovery, what is it?
Somewhere in me there is the ability to create music, and I know the desire is there too, currently it lies dormant and feels very much suppressed, maybe even oppressed, by my own thoughts and feelings, and still, the irony remains that in being so antagonised in the notion of lacking inspiration, that the conflict should brew inspiration.