Whilst giving the blog a spiffing new revamp I decided to, like the passive aggressive bastard I am, reassess who I was following on my WordPress reader, and when I mean reassess, I mean venture on a rabid, savage, bloody, amoral WordPress unfollow crusade. Due to the vast amount of time I’ve now been plaguing this website with, I’d managed to accumulate quite a surplus of subscriptions, coming in at around 50 I think. So, naturally, my reader began to clog up with a homogeneous bunch of cookie-cut articles from blogs that I follow-back’d out of courtesy, or out of a naive assumption that a simple follow always meant some kind of investment on this website rather than, usually, an apathetic and selfish effort for blog popularity. The frequency of insightful and personal thought pieces was pummelled down by the relentless linking of let’s plays, eek (skin crawls), and obligatory ‘monday madness’ schedule pieces. Your Monday isn’t that mad, no one with that recipe of cripplingly low self esteem, neediness and introversion one needs to run a blog really has a ‘mad’ anything. Swine.
What was I *hiccup* talking about? Oh yeah.. so, I was gradually unfollowing, unliking, refollowing, and about 5 blogs into my subscription list I noticed a… shady and insidious pattern. These blogs, the ones I bounced up years ago, the ones that maybe even commented on one of my old cringeposts: absolutely dead. No vitals, tumbleweeds as far back as 2014.
It was oddly, oddly frequent. The last posts on these online corpses were one of two things, usually either an apology post months back about why they haven’t been posting very much recently, with no follow up at all, or you’d see the last post of dead blog with only two or three posts to credit in its entire history, the first usually being a post about how excited they are to start their own blog about gaming or films or photography etc. It’s just sad, it can only be sad, to see an apparent creative impetus and passion be so closely conflated with an inevitable lethargy and creative extinguishing.
And it’s hardly something that is limited to WordPress, but it is definitely frequent here, I suspect because (I find that) the general quality of content on WordPress is higher than that of Tumblr or YouTube, and so it is naturally a more formidable or demanding platform, as opposed to these other sites whose audiences tolerate and so empower one-hit-wonders, plagiarists, and also on the other end of the spectrum respond to poor content by masturbatory ridicule and Steisand-effect popularity instead of the constructive criticism or simple avoidance you regularly see on this site. I digress, it’s not only on WordPress that I’ve seen this veritable phenomenon of quitting, of throwing in that towel which everyone seems to own. You’ll see, under numerous famous let’s players or video essayists or commentators on YouTube: ‘You have inspired me. Right now I’m going to commit myself to produce something similar to yourself, I promise’, sometimes even statements that show someone is so inspired that they will take up a similar occupation full time and abandon all other priorities.
Claims like this are important, exciting, and loaded with the potential of a real and possibly influential internet presence. It’s the kind of claim that’s preliminary, sometimes, to a genuinely drastic change in a real lifestyle. It’s Halvard choosing to conquer his fatal apprehension in Ibsen’s Master Builder, it’s Finn choosing to join the rebel insurgency, it’s Adewale choosing to divert from his beloved Jackdaw (I’ll miss ya).
But claims like this have also evolved to be baseless, hollow platitudes that litter social media biographies as, I’m sorry, instruments of affectation. An ‘aspiring writer’ in a social media description will generally have no link to their supposed content available, or an ‘aspiring artist’ with an instagram will simply recycle other peoples’ work and think that that process of conglomeration alone is enough evidence for a kind of artistic insight. The terms ‘aspiring’ and ‘inspired’ have become entirely interchangeable with ‘vaguely interested’, at least as far as I have seen.
I want to talk about this because I actually understand and sympathise with the kind of people who start a real project in a flurry of creativity and then tersely abandon it. As someone who runs a
UKIP and holocaust denier forum blog, I understand, once something is announced to be completed (and sometimes even having a functioning blog itself creates this innate pressure to perform) there is a crushing weight that comes from an inkling that there will be this deficit between the idea and the actuality, the concept and the output. Even though you haven’t typed a word, sung a note, or dipped a brush in paint yet, there is that absolutely debilitating fear of a personal failure- a creative kind of performance anxiety, and evidently this feeling always trumps any creative efforts in the cases of these dead blogs.
Evidently all these dead blogs have taken the fact- rather the assumption that their output will misalign with a perfect concept, and have decided that that imperfection is not even worth its own inception. I kinda want to get angry at that, but… yeah… I get that. I do. It’s stupid, but I do. It’s a very human trait to just give up in the face of overwhelming expectation- a real, personal expectation but also an imagined public scrutiny that you extrapolate from your own anxiety, at least in the case of putting something online.
Well, there’s two things wrong with that assumption. Firstly, of course your output will misalign with the initial concept of any of your creative work, it always does. Nothing you ever make you will ever be truly, truly happy with, because the concept contains no factors of realism or process. The purpose of having any creative output at all is, arguably, to try and minimise that inevitable distance. That fear that the output will drastically differ to the concept is irrational in the sense that it is inevitable anyway. The best creators in any field of art are perpetually dissatisfied with anything they release, and the worst are the ones who are perpetually satisfied. Secondly, and this might sound bitter, but the concept is almost never perfect anyway. To the creator it is, as it is designed by their own creative mind to pander to specifically their own creative tastes, but everyone has a different opinion of the parameters of what is ‘good’. If we all had this standardised sense of creative quality then it would be so easy to create something perfect.
If you’re looking at this from a consumer perspective then it’s easy, you know what you like and what you don’t, but as a creator it’s understandably daunting. You have no idea what people will view your content and how these people will perceive it. More importantly, if it’s terrible and you think it’s amazing, what does that say about you?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, ultimately, stick to that attractive creative concept and nourish it the only way possible- through output. The internet has cultivated these brilliant media platforms, but the accessibility of creativity online also comes at a cost, that it is so easy for people to stay halfway in and out the door. Before today, if you wanted to become a photographer- a writer, maybe- you had to hire an agent, buy your own equipment, write to a publisher… now any kid with their iPhone can be an ‘aspiring photographer’. It has become so easy to just try out and, well, fuck around with what some people do professionally.
If you actually stick to something, then you might discover that you have to potential to minimise that concept-output creative distance through sheer practice. Looking through old blog posts and projects and cringing is a good thing, it’s a sign of education and evolution and it’s not just to be abandoned as a failure. Nothing you ever create can truly be a failure if it was made with honest good-intention, something that the best and worst art can boast.