When I was at school, my ambition was to become a music journalist. I bought NME & Melody Maker religiously plus just about every monthly music magazine going at the time. I loved writing. I had numerous notebooks, most likely knocked off school books if memory serves. Those notebooks are long gone but I think it is safe to assume they were bursting at the seams with teen angst and as a Smiths fan then, and a Smiths fan now, I know there was ill-advised poetry in there (bloody awful poetry). I never did realise my ambition.
I got as far as writing some singles reviews & a couple of articles for the Glasgow University student newspaper before dropping out of university into a life of retailing. I could have kept writing but I fell out of love with it for a few reasons.
Firstly, I think I had a moment of clarity & self-awareness. I realised almost all of what I was writing was appalling rubbish. Last night I had a search through the digital archives of the Glasgow University Guardian and tracked down the bits & pieces I had written in 1996 which confirms that fact. I cringed through all of it. One piece I wrote about Eric Cantona was reasonably passable though – just. Around that time I also came to be of the opinion that the writers I found most interesting were writers that were older, that had lived life a bit & had some tangible life experience to draw on. I felt I had nothing to say that was worth writing & neither did anyone else my age. I suppose I still feel a bit like that. In the same way that I am not a great fan of career politicians who go straight from university into standing to be an MP – I think the job of effectively representing people in parliament requires real life experience like a proper paid job for a start, how can you fully understand something you have never experienced. The best writing requires an understanding of life which comes from experience although I would qualify that by saying everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard – I just might not personally be listening.
Secondly, I came to despise almost all writing on music. I still enjoy biographies of interesting musicians such as Shakey by Jimmy McDonough on Neil Young, Bob Dylan’s Chronicles & Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance by Johnny Rogan. I also enjoy reading interviews with those same interesting musicians but only those interviews that are genuinely about the subject and not the interviewer. I hate music reviews – “this sounds like this”, “that sounds like that”, “this sounds like that……on drugs”, blah, blah, blah. I came to hate music journalism around the same time I came to hate music snobbery. I’ve worked in a record shop for over 16 years – I am an expert on music snobbery. I state this unarguable fact – all music is subjective, there is no good music, there is no bad music. There is only like & dislike. Ultimately music is to be listened to, it is not for writing about.
I’m not sure I wrote anything for about 10 years. In the back of my head I have always been thinking about it. I think of myself as someone who wants to write. I enjoy the function of writing. I like putting words together to form sentences. Around 6 years ago I wrote a few blog-type things on the lost social networking colony of MySpace – I have yet to track these down to re-read them & self-flagellate myself. After that, nothing much. I set up a blog page and wrote a few short film reviews a couple of years ago. I have started writing some sort of blog at least a dozen times since then and never got past the first paragraph before beating myself around the head with a blunt object for being so arrogant as to think I have something of any interest to say.
However, someone wise has recently said to me that I shouldn’t think about writing for anyone else. I should write for myself. So I am. I’m 36 years old now. I think I’ve lived a bit. I’ve worked in a full time job for 17 years. I’ve lived through births, deaths & marriages (not my own). I’m equal parts optimistic, cynical, idealistic & jaded. I think I’ve lived enough to earn the right to pay attention to my own point of view.
I’ve thought about picking a theme to write about but can’t settle on one so I’m just going to write about whatever interests me enough on any given day. Perhaps a theme will emerge at some point, perhaps not. At this point in time it feels nice to have gotten to the end of this. I have written something.