Art by @carvesteady. Words by me.
Art by @carvesteady

Fourteen years. That’s how long I’ve been plugging away at this little corner of the Internet. Panic and Fear. I remember being late to blogging in 2010. Maybe if I keep at it long enough it will become popular again. Bloggers were proto-influencers. And in a dim sense, I hoped it would be a springboard to my creative success. That I would set the world in fire with my words and join the rarified air of real writers everywhere. Fun fact: I still work the job I had when I started writing this. I’ve neglected it for years at a time, but always came back. It’s a stubborn cold sore that tells everyone my business.

Grad school paralyzed me. I started studying philosophy to broaden my perspective in the hopes of becoming a better reader and writer, but became entangled in minutia. My time studying philosophy made me obsess with getting things right. Creatively, it was stifling. I was rejected from doctorate programs because they hated the essay I submitted about the ethics of humor. I was rejected from an iO Harold Team because I was too analytical. I know this because I was taking notes during my evaluation, like a fucking dufus. I wasn’t serious enough for academia and too serious for improv comedy. Orphaned by my institutions, I sought refuge here. Two failed sides of myself finding harmony.

As I write this, I realize it would be so much more impactful if this were the prologue to my soon-to-be-published best-selling anthology of essays where I recount how I overcame adversity and achieved success. Rather, this is the last bastion of my artistic life. It’s the iron lung of my creativity. My life is budget meetings and spreadsheets now. What I make here is carved from the scraps.

And I’ve returned to the well so many times, I’ve started to pull the curtain back on my own machinery. The writing conventions I exploit. The vaguely inspirational upshot, hinting at being rescued from despair. The lists of three declarative sentences which I use to drive my point home like a slam poet. You work your whole life to develop your voice, only to hate it once you recognize it.

This must be how bands feel. Play the hits, but do something new. I liked their early stuff. Every record sounds the same. The new album doesn’t even sound like the same band.

For the last decade, I have obsessed about the creative process and exalted my artistic identity above all else. Post-Covid, I have laid that version of myself to rest. I had not considered what it would mean to choose a different path. And yet, at the halfway mark, we find ourselves starting over. The tenor of my writing has changed. From an optimism about a future filled with possibility to a reckoning of what we sacrificed for a flawed dream.   

Let’s see if we can teach an old dog new tricks. Haha. Goddamnit. Even in trying to expose my patterns and tendencies, I caught myself doing the exact thing I’ve always done. Same Nick, different day; feigning intimacy with the entire Internet. Charming the void. 

In his writing on habits, Aristotle said we are what we do most often. To be candid, I am not thrilled with what my most-often list has become. Books, gym, writing, friends, and self-improvement have all fallen off the top ten. Goodbye for now, Dear Readers. I’m heading to the gym. I will try to be a better Nick tomorrow than I was today. Thank you for keeping me company as I roll this boulder up a hill.

* Art by @carvesteady

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