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The Fear

I no longer remember a time when I didn’t have The Fear. Well, that’s a lie I’ve just made up for dramatic effect – I still remember being a child and having no responsibility whatsoever. That was great. I wrote things for fun then, and didn’t give a shit what people thought about them. Now I’m too wracked by self-doubt and lethargy that I don’t get anything done outside of work and here (this, of course, being used as an aid to keep my fingers nimble and my mind match fit). But that’s another topic for another time. What I want to talk about is something that’s been with me since I was 11 years old: The Fear.

Back in comprehensive school (hah! I’m poor!) we had homework. I would leave it until the night before – sometimes the morning – it had to be handed in before I would do it, and I would always get it done to a decent enough standard. Then came 6th form: same story. University was an interesting one, as while the fear was ever-present, I actually managed to go completely off the rails and nadger up my second year, actually missing deadlines and eventually dropping out. But that wasn’t the fault of The Fear: that was outside interference. No, The Fear has always been an ally; there to push me to get my finger out, to get the job done and to be more than just another failure working in a shop for the rest of my life. It’s what got me back on track when I re-enrolled at uni, and it’s what got me to write my 10,000 words of dissertation in under two days (the less said about the mark (I passed!) the better).

And then so came the Dark Years – unemployment, working in a shop, not doing anything of worth and generally being a bit shit. It took about a year of this before I felt the urge. I felt it picking away at the back of my neck, reminding me that I should get off my arse and… well, sit down and write some things. It was my old friend, back after around 12 months of travelling the world looking for more things to inflict itself on me with. Writing to deadlines again for freelance work, I was once more on the saddle riding The Fear. Since then it’s hardly been from my side.

I went from the Dark Years on to more schooling – again with homework, exams and portfolios to keep The Fear topped up. On finishing, I immersed myself in more of the things that had kept me tiding over before the course: daily work to be done, reviews, interviews and anything else to keep me writing. Then I got this job last year, and it’s so perfect for me it’s unreal. Yes, I get paid to play videogames and have opinions on them, yes it’s a magazine I read as a 14-year-old and yes I do enjoy it quite a lot. But the main thing that keeps me going; that keeps me happy?

This job is based almost entirely around The Fear.

I love The Fear.

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What is writing? HMM?

I’ve never thought of myself as much of a writer. Sure, I can string words together and make myself (and sometimes others) laugh. But I’ve never been able to successfully dissect the very meaning of a piece of literature (or a game, more realistically), I’ve never been able to set myself out in a logical, academic fashion and I absolutely cannot write essays. I can write to the extent that I can churn out reams of bollock on command – that much I’m sure – but give me a one sentence statement of academic leanings with the word “discuss” at the end and I’m pretty much fucked for what to put.

At the same time, I know of many people who are more than capable of spunking out an essay of literary worth without so much as a second thought, but to whom the thought of waxing lyrical about nothing in particular for a few hundred words off the top of their head is absolutely alien. As well as the thought of writing sentences as long as that. To me, it is these people who are the freaks. But it still doesn’t mean I really think I can write.

See, making a thousand words appear on a screen when you’re working from thoughts and instinct isn’t truly writing. Or is it? One of my most preferred authors is Charles Bukowski, a man who professed a love and respect for the art of sitting and letting the words come. But I’ve been through a life of schooling that has taught me otherwise: research, planning, structure and a lack of opinion is what makes something truly good to read. No one wants to read the opinions of others – and no one wants to read shitty blogs like this.

There are many types of writer, many types of reader, but so much gravitas is placed on those who can formulate the stuff of academia that I’ve always felt somewhat second-class. Thing is, I just realise I can work in an awful pun, thinly-veiled knob gag or put on my wank hat and go to town on something I truly love without caring about if my words will impress. So it’s all good, I suppose.

Apologies for the self-doubting (Thomas), rather confused entry; I will return to my usual ball of self-confidence and respect for all tomorrow. It’s just something that springs to mind when you’re meant to be a writer (not a journalist, as this what I do isn’t journalism) and you’re in one of those daft, reflective moods.

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