Music as my Muse

Let me attempt to paint a picture and some sound with words here for a moment.

The venue was sold out. I got there fifteen minutes after the doors had opened and stood in line around the entire block for a half hour before getting in. The place was packed, the line for the merch table was so long it was getting lost in the crowd eagerly waiting for the show to begin. The first band started and I was at the back of the crowd, waiting in line. I like to get my merch at the beginning of the show because I’m small and my size sells out quickly.

Within thirty seconds of their performance, the floor was shaking from I Prevail telling the crowd to jump. I couldn’t help but bob along while I stood in line and wished I was in the middle of that crowd. I made my purchase and shoved my way into the crush of people just in time to participate in a wall of death at the start of the second song that opened up a pit that spanned half of the floor. It was exhilarating, my blood was rushing, the music shook me.

By the time the band I came to see began to play my throat was nearly raw from screaming support to the first band, I was exhausted from bashing my face on someone else’s head during the second band’s set and my legs were shaking from dancing and jumping. But I summoned the last of my strength and sang my heart out for Hollywood Undead because I’m that fan who knows every word to every song.

I get so much shit for the music I listen to and have for as long as I can remember, from everyone: parents, friends, coworkers, strangers. I’m so used to it that it surprises me to meet new people who understand what I feel. And I feel so much.

Last night, my heart felt like it was falling out of my throat with every word that I sang and my blood was pumping so hard it felt like my veins might burst. Art is meant to make you feel and I felt so strong last night. Music is art.

Music has inspired me for so long that I can hardly separate song from my writing. I listen to music when I write, as I write this, I’m listening to Shinedown’s new album “Threat to Survival.” Last night as I drove home from the show, high off of adrenaline, I listened to my newly purchased copy of I Prevail’s debut EP “Heart Vs. Mind” on repeat for two hours and I drafted this blog entry in my head and in the notes section of my phone. I have a specific playlist built for the first novel I wrote and I still rely on that playlist occasionally when I need support from the past to write something new.

It is a thing that is difficult to put into words because music is only partially words and only that if you listen to music with words, but I write hoping that you will understand, if only just a little.

So much emotion goes into music, you can feel it in every instrument, in every word that is sang and the way it is sung. When I write, I try to encompass the kind of emotion that music does. Obviously with writing, I can only take the single element of words and only mimic the rhythm and voice of instruments, but damn do I try my hardest.

I’ve been told that my prose reads a lot like poetry and not one of my teachers were ever surprised to learn that I write poetry as well. Poems are similar to lyrics in the sense that every word counts a lot more, since there are less of them and often times poetry is read with music accompanying it. You’ll also hear words like rhythm, cadence, and beat used to describe poetry, relating it to music. Music uses words and words can have a sort of musicality to them. This is why I draw so much inspiration from music.

Writing takes a lot of emotion, ask any writer. It sucks a piece of your soul out through your fingertips. The act of creating is very emotional and music both drives me to express that emotion and helps me to control the feelings. It is a very magical thing.

I’m not completely certain I will ever be able to truly explain just how much music has impacted my life, but here I hope that I was able to show you just a little of what it has done for me. My writing would not be where it is now if not for the music that fuels me to continue onward and inspire me with new rhythm in my work.

It is my dearest, most selfish hope that my writing becomes the soundtrack to someone’s life, that my poetry is the music reflected in their eyes. The day my novel becomes the song that saved someone’s life will be the day that I have accomplished my goal.

Writing is my Therapy: A Creative Mind on Depression

I’ve been having a very difficult time coming up with a topic to add to my blog, hence why it has been so long since I posted last.  Part of the reason is due to the mental struggles I have been dealing with in an inflated way in the last few months.  So here I am.

I live with depression and social anxiety on a daily basis.  I have chosen not to medicate myself and have struggled with different coping mechanisms throughout my life.  The anxiety is something I tend to by being aware of my social limits and balancing that with work, family time, friend time and a plethora of alone time.  The depression is a little more tricky.  It is something that is difficult to describe to anyone who has never experienced it and even harder to describe to those who have, but have moved on from it.  My depression is not a seasonal thing, though it gets worse in the winter months, and it is not a temporary thing.  I have dealt with it all of my life and operate based on the assumption that it is never going away.  To say that depression hits you like a wave is true, yet also untrue.  Sometimes it does and I wake up with a migraine, unable to get out of bed.  Other days I wake up feeling 100% happy and normal, but as the day wears on, the smile fades and my texts become shorter and less vibrant and by two in the morning I am in tears, psychoanalyzing myself in the shower.

Writing has always been one of the things that helps pull me away from the all-consuming mire of depression.  Once again, however, there is an unfortunate flip side as depression also makes it extremely difficult for me to write.

That cycle is what I have been struggling with for the past few months.  I am desperately working on a novel that I would love to have a rough draft of completed by November, but each day that I stare at my computer screen and compose line after line of poetry about the shaking in my hands and the aching for a razor blade on my skin, I feel like I am further and further from that goal.

On one hand, I’m writing some pretty interesting poetry that is helping me to come to terms with the mental illness I am constantly at war with.  On the other hand, I have a story inside of me that is screaming to be let out and my overwhelming lack of motivation and self loathing has me locked up in such a way that only certain words will come out, but not the ones I’m looking for.

Countless studies have been done on the correlation between depression and artists of any type, I knew I was doomed the moment I picked up a pen and the sleepless nights started.  It is the curse of the intelligent to suffer from insomnia, and in turn, depression, which also causes sleeplessness and therein the cycle begins.

Which brings me here to why I am writing this post about my specific brand of mental illness, for there are many, but I am only plagued with a few and it seems that my anxiety and depression feed off of one another.  My writing is the reason why I choose not to medicate.  The creative part of me is, most days, the one thing that keeps me going, whether I have writer’s block or not.  I know I have stories in my head that need to be written down, need to be told and they won’t be if I end my life because I can’t take the pain anymore.  Taking medication to calm the storm in my head could affect my writing in a huge way and I am not willing to risk that.  I’ve made it 23 years without medicine to keep me from killing myself, I can only hope that my writing can keep me afloat another 23 more.

My illness and my experiences are the things that drive me to write.  I know I mentioned it in my first blog post, but it bears repeating.  I write for the ones who feel alone, who don’t have anywhere else to go so they eat their lunch in the library among the books and end up picking one up that changes their life.  I know those people exist because that happened to me.  I have so many books on my list now that have helped me discover what I am and kept me going through things that would have killed a lot of people.  I am here because of those worlds I was able to escape to and I am here to carry on that torch.  I write stories about broken people and magic that heals them, stories about lost boys and girls who find their place in the world in the last places they expect, stories of young love and old love, shattered dreams and dead end roads that find new life, because if I haven’t found a reason good enough to end it yet, then you can continue on too.

They say it gets better and I hope to hell that it does, but for now I’ll keep on writing because no matter how much it hurts, I’m too stubborn to give up.