A Hunger Artist

Carry on coughing. All the way the the coffin. Alternate that with sleep which ends whenever sweating becomes too uncomfortable or the dreams of Doctor Who stuff (which I love) are interrupted by anxiety shit about losing my car or my house keys, or being date-raped by the Eastern European woman who works in the shop across the road.

Healthy in body and mind, huh? I’m running out of foods from the freezer, I’m running out of faith that I live to see the end of winter. I’m depressed and anxious and wish I had the energy to write, to finish at least one volume of memoirs before I peg out so that I can feel I’ve honoured one last promise to my younger self.

I was going to be a writer, you know. Long before I cared about being a musician I was going to be a writer. At first I imitated the children’s authors I read and even wrote ten or more chapters of a detective story when I was single in single figures, age-wise. Abandoned, like so many other projects in my life. Lost, like quite a few of those other projects.

I discovered Orwell when I was thirteen. We may have read Animal Farm at school – perfect for schoolboys as it is short, allegorical and inconclusive aside from the final paragraph – but it was his more personal histories of time spent amongst the homeless of Britain and France and of a life spent in the military police in Burma and fighting fascism in Spain (and being wounded for his convictions) – that had more lasting impact in terms of hankering to turn life as lived into words.

Then came The Beats but also the scurrilous 20s and 30s writers like Henry Miller and, briefly, DH Lawrence. However then came The Beatles and rock and roll became the most powerful obsession I’d known to that point. But if I look at those artists I most admired, from Lennon to Townsend to Weller to Paul Simon (I apologise for all of those influences being male: I was a teenage boy), the link between what I loved in them and my literary heroes was their ability to turn personal experience and opinion into forms of linguistic expression. They meant it, man, even when they were being metaphorical or changing facts to protect themselves or others.

By the time I was in my first gigging band in my late teens I wanted to somehow be both a successful musician and a writer. I assumed the latter could follow on from the former, that I was living in crazy times amidst crazy people and that being a rock and roll star would make publishers more than keen to give me expansive deals to write memoirs and maybe the odd work of fiction once the initial radiation burns of stratospheric fame had healed a little and I had time, space and several mansions on various continents in high to chain myself to a typewriter.

Guess what? Never happened. Guess what else? Aside from using some of my own personal experiences to write my only completed novel a few years ago (one read by less than a hundred people to date) I didn’t even fall back in the writing when rock and roll palled and academia stalled because of my failing health. Yes I sort of got to publish a couple of collections of short stories through an independent house before being dropped like a stone (lack of engagement on their part, lack of talent on mine? Lack of readers in either case) but it seems I’m not a short story writer, not one writing material that appeals to anybody but myself anyway. I’m Kafka, and I as always going to be Kafka, it now seems. With one exception: a hundred years after my death nobody will know who the fuck I was.

Depressed? You think? When all the brain is capable of doing is reminding me of all the failed promises I once made to myself, how else should I feel?


About S

“an extraordinary repository of cultural knowledge”
This entry was posted in academia, Blogging, creativity, Culture, Education, health, History, Language, Life, Literature, love, mental health, Music, Philosophy, Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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