By: Will Roberts
Now I don’t wish to rock the boat, and do stop me if the particular thread I’m picking at here is the one which unravels the cardigan, but I’m currently contemplating something of a quandary and I’m concerned it might be an ‘elephant in the room’ of an issue over which it is unhealthy to mull.
I’ve written before (lyrics, articles for small magazines, short stories for self gratification and profoundly fucking terrible poetry) and have lately begun flinging my particular brand of mud at the internet to see if it sticks. And stick it does. Mine does, yours will and so will that of every shoe gazing poet sat tweeting all the faux intellectual codswallop permeating from under his understatedly charming hair into his iphone with one hand whilst the other absentmindedly twirls a tarnished teaspoon around a soya latte in the back corner of a vegan coffee house. Every crushingly depressed and oppressed teenager without parental internet controls on the high spec, star trek tech PC that daddy bought them for Christmas can ‘wish theyd neva bin born’ to their hearts content and expect their facebook status reflecting this mood to be ‘liked’ by Daz, Gaz and Shaz who will all agree that their parents are wankers for not buying them JLS tickets for their birthday. Lolz. OMG. Isn’t the internet fucking ‘epic’ mate. Nowadays I can readily read guff flatched out by literally anyone with access to affordable and widespread technology. Every wannabe intellectual who ever got a battered notebook out of their brown leather satchel in a real ale pub and stared into space looking like ‘something might come to them’ but who, if lightly and justifiably tortured, would have to admit that really they wanted someone (preferably an attractive female someone, you know, one of those pretty but they don’t really know it, DM wearing, folksy types who drink beers called ‘Abbots Arse’ and ‘Rat up a Drainpipe’) to ask them what they’re writing can now jump up and down waving their bleatings under my nose. And how do I respond? I become that one who gets out of bed in the wee hours of the morning having been unable to sleep for seething, who pours a little whiskey for sipping, and rattles my laptop fully, full on intending to submit my protestations to a website where I know they can be picked over by large numbers of people who really aren’t obliged to give the finest fraction of a shit what I think.
And I want them to read it. Worse, I want them to like it. Worse still, that bit about the notebook, the satchel and the real ale was me as well.
I’ve been alive for a while now and I’ve come to terms with a lot of things about myself which I used to find reprehensible. I accept that I am a show off. I accept that I feel a ‘need’ for recognition and thrive on people’s praise and approval. I’m not proud of the fact that I clamour for attention like a child tugging on his mother’s skirt at a supermarket checkout desperately trying to negotiate their way into ownership of a kinder surprise, but I don’t beat myself up about it either. A few beers in and ‘yes, actually, I have got a semi for the sound of my own voice’. I do, I might add in defence, attempt to offset this character flaw through other, more laudable, aspects of my personality. I’m not a monster.
It begs a troubling question though, one which I can’t think I’m the first or even the thousandth to ask myself. Is my ‘need’ the only reason I write at all? There is undoubtedly a large amount of excellent material available online to anyone who wishes to look for it but you will have to wade through a lot of codshit (see above). Does the internet provide a medium for the literary talents of those who in the past would not so easily have found a voice or is it simply a megaphone for every needy, self centred and deluded individual who wants to be seen to be a writer?
I’ve tried to tell myself that the first time I write something which I think is truly accomplished and profound, something important; I’ll put it straight into a drawer and never show anyone. This would go some way to proving that I’m more than a dog on its hind legs begging for boneos but I’m not convinced I’ll ever do it. What’s the point in me writing it if no one will ever read it? In fact, don’t read this article. You’ll only encourage me.