Lofty Ambition

Once, a long time ago, back in the infancy of this blog, a friend asked me why I wrote. The answer was, and still is, that I write for myself. I write because it’s fun to try and pop down some thoughts and ideas into a structured manner. For every post on here, there’s probably another not-written post that has either withered and died over a few drafts, or an idea that once I have written is down it’s unravelled itself, or in most cases I get to the end and realise it’s pointless and boring. I still have a realm of these posts stored on my Dropbox, and there they shall remain (probably until someone decided to pay me a load of money to write a book about my life, and then I’ll dredge them up and get my editor to fix them into something resembling properly written English).

Quite rightly, this same person then asked “If you only write for yourself, why do you post it online? Surely if it’s just for you why publish it?” This is a very good question, and the first answer was to be needlessly defensive: “It is a way of finishing things”. Then, and after a while (and long after the conversation had ended, naturally) I thought of the real reason – it’s because I dreamt of it being my real job. And, to be honest, that was something I was kind of embarrassed about.

I am not sure why it embarrassed me. I mean, this was over five or six years ago, but the idea that I would consider my ramblings worthwhile was weirdly embarrassing, yet enticing, and to be honest it still is. However, my ambitions for this blog are small – I don’t really want to be a "writer" anymore. In fact, in 2008, I tried my hand at it for various sites, as a hobby, and it really really wasn’t for me. I didn’t like having to write something, which is where things started to go wrong. When I wrote for music publications and received umpteen CDs through the post (honestly, about 30 a week at one point) I started to feel under pressure to write and that doesn’t help me. I don’t find working under pressure actually helps me – I know it does for some, but I feel like too much pressure ends up creating a bottle neck, and pressure doesn’t create results. If I feel like I need to write blog posts I sometimes react in the opposite direction – in fact, this is a major personality flaw I have in general, not just in my hobbies.

When I realised this, and that not only was writing for these publications ruining my enjoyment of writing, it was also ruining my enjoyment of listening to music, I removed myself from that entirely, and gave up. I remember a good bit of advice; you need to be willing to write about stuff you don’t like, and write about that better than you might write about something you actually like. I realised that despite my lofty ambitions (hey,that’s the title of the post!) I didn’t fancy that, and with that I lost any credibility and drive to go on.

With that, I gave up a load of great perks (free gigs and CDs being one) but I immediately felt better for it. I find looking back that 2008 was a lost year of music for me, focusing too much on what I had to listen to rather than what I wanted to listen to. It is weird though, as I reviewed some big releases – like Frightened Rabbit’s rise to fame at a pre-stardom gig, or Coldplay’s Vida la Viva or Death and All His Friends, or Bloc Party’s Intimacy, along with meeting a few bands I love and talking to them before and after gigs for interviews that I just didn’t finish up. It was only a few months ago when I found a link to the old articles I had written back then onthe God is in the TV Zine site, which you can find following that link. I am embarrassed at some of them, but others I am happy about. There were albums reviewed that honestly didn’t remember even listening to, but hey – that’s what happens when you’re listening for a reason beyond just listening.

I mention this as I have realised that my embarrassing ambitions meant that, back then, I modestly and stupidly underplayed some of my achievements. I wrote some articles, and for better or worse, I gave it a shot. I used to squirm when someone mentioned it in passing about me to a third party – “Oh yeah, Mark reviews music for sites”, and my response would be to cringe and downplay it. I do this now, with my radio show. I downplay it with a lot of people, including friends. But radio is a far better fit for me – as anyone who knows me knows I love to talk about music. And love to tell people about the artists and stories behind them – and, something that really is a big deal for me, is that unlike writing about music and gigs and such (I remember when I became news editor on that site, for goodness sake) I have found instead of souring music for me, it’s actually made me enjoy it all the more.

I’d love to be a radio show producer and host as a job, but I am under no illusions – unlike pipe dreams of being a paid writer, being a paid radio show host is a near impossibility, because I am only good for what I know and like – to return to the writing, I noted that I hated writing about stuff I didn’t like (or, more accurately, having to listen to stuff I didn’t like, ha), and I know that a major part of being a DJ on my community station is that I can play only what I want to play, without any interference. I think that is why it is such a rewarding hobby.

I still have ambition for the show, and I want it to always be getting better, more listeners, bigger exposure, and maybe a wider reach, because I find that the music deserves it! I think I need to be more comfortable with it being a part of me, and be better at being proud of it. I am proud of this seven and a half year long blog habit, as it’s a wonderful testament to my life. I can’t wait to tell my child that, when they were born, I was a radio DJ.