Something that I have always loved about punk is the DIY culture of it; that we don’t want or need your help. It’s tough and it’s more work, but we are free.
I realized that a lot of my work stems from anger, and a lot of anything I have done, come to that. My songs were driven by anger, at myself, at injustice. Stupid, self indulgent idealism.
I remember fighting with my first girlfriend, and I was so mad that things were hard, that nothing worked like it did in stories, that relationships were work. It pissed me off; I felt like I had been lied to, a goddamn lifetime of movies and books, all conspiring to tell me that relationships were easy, you just had to love. The problem I have come across recently is that I am getting more and more content, my life is comfortable, and I have learned many difficult lessons, and make many fewer mistakes. I’ve matured, in other words, and it feels strange. I still am mad, mad at politics, and willful destruction, but those are big picture things.
The world of writing is strange to me, because it is so careless and immune to your own weaknesses. Nobody cares about you and it feels impersonal, and that is fine because it fuels me in that angry way. I’ll make you care. I’ll show you, I’ll show all of you. And that works, sometimes.
But you get rejected so much, neglected and beaten down that you almost get used to it, it seems normal.
This is the problem with normal: you can’t be angry at normal.
I hate being told I can’t do something. I hate that I have to request entrance into the club, I hate the dress codes, the unbalanced power. I hate the idea that there is a person, some asshole MFA with a cute smile and a firm handshake and a kooky messenger bag to show that he is just the right balance of business and fun, this smarmy jackass, he gets to decide what will happen with my work, whether it sees the light of day, whether it becomes something that I hate. I hate the idea of being allowed in, as if without their grace, I would be forever at the window watching the fun from outside.
Here is the thing: It’s great outside. You can be as loud as you want, you can pee in the woods, there’s way more of us out here than in there. We just need to meet and greet and we will build our own clubhouse, and if we work together, those inside the house jerkoffs will see what we have built, and they will want to come in to our place.
I have regained some of it, that fiery feeling, I feel it best when I have tried to do things the right way, have tried to fit in with the normal people that do everything the way that they are supposed to, and it never works because I’m wired for anger, I’m filled with pissed off. And I’m soft, and weak and stupid, I’m just another stupid cow face in this stupid cow world, I’m just another dumb asshole with a voice, that has nothing to say but never stops talking, I’m just another fucking moron on a soapbox.
Sometimes I wish for something different for myself. I wish I could just get on board, could just play for the team, root for my hometown, but I’m idiot mad and I can’t, I’m not like that; I don’t listen to advice, and I will let my whole world burn to the ground before I accept your telling me what I can and cannot do. My problem is I have met too many open doors, too many welcome signs, too many smiling faces, I have a drivers license, a voter ID card, health insurance and a heart filled with rage.
I feel like quitting, all the time. I wonder what it would be like if I just stopped, just walked away from writing entirely. and I considered what it would mean for me just as a person, just as part of my identity. And I realized that I can’t stop, because this is where my hope lies, this is what I have that I can do, this is my way out. And I have read all the statistics, and I know that it is difficult, nearly impossible in this economic reality to make a living with words, both because of the general devaluing of artistic expression, and because so many people are just happy to work for free. I thought about it, I really did. I haven’t written anything of note in months.
But if I did give up, what would that make me? What would I have to drive me forward, to hope for? If I’m not a writer, what the fuck am I, then?
So here you go, a little slice, a bleeding cut, a scrape. Here it is. I write because I am a writer.
I ask this all the time to artists of all kinds, musicians and poets and painters, Why do this? If you might never get anything back, ever, nothing but rejection and disdain, why keep doing this?
The answer is always the same:
This is who I am. I do this because fuck you, that’s why.
This is stupid, self indulgent, idealism. But that is also who I am.
Now if you will excuse me, I’ve got to get back to work; I’ve got a clubhouse to build.
Antiartists is one year old today. Thank you to everyone who shared it and read it, really, it means a lot. You can catch me at the usual spots: @RDPullins on Twitter, or comment here or on Facebook too, I guess. Thanks for taking the time to read this stuff. Cheers.