I am very grateful to Ghostpoet. Not only for finding a way to make the word “poet” sit comfortably on hipsters’ lips (that’s an awesome name, first and foremost) but for helping me to make sense of a supremely unproductive weekend. I arrived home at 10:30pm on Friday evening and didn’t leave my house till Monday at 7:30am. In between, the time just evaporated. I had three writing assignments and made barely a dent in any of them. Words have never come so reluctantly to me.
At the root of my difficulty was the feeling that whatever I wrote would float out unnoticed into an indifferent world. After all, I’ve been here so many times before over the years. I’ve written manuscripts and kissed them good luck just before posting then. I’ve lovingly crafted verses, set them to mp3s, and watched them go untouched by radio playlists. I’ve had books sit on shelves and struggle to earn out their advances. And each time, having met with commercial disappointment, I’ve returned to work with diligence and defiance.
Not this time, though. This time I looked at everything around me with an unfamiliar resignation. I thought: there are already enough books on the shelves. There are already enough songs on iPods; and there aren’t enough stages for all the bands in the world. And I thought; why bother.
Mentally, it got pretty dark. I’d sacrificed a lot to get to this point, both personally and financially, and as I sat at my desk hoping for words to arrive I thought of all this. There are many times I wish that I had never been a writer at all. The agony of such an uncertain career was overwhelming me as perhaps never before. I had been asked by the BBC to write a talk on a book that had changed my life, and I had chosen Othello, since it was this play that had prompted me to write poetry. Looking at the hard-fought path towards success that I’d walked since then, I bitterly wished I’d never read that play at all.
But none of this was helping me write, so I did what I always do when feeling creatively low: I looked for some music. And then there was Ghostpoet, and “Liiines”. I don’t remember how I stumbled across it, but I’ve had it on constant repeat ever since. Each line spoke directly to the frustration I had been feeling that weekend: to being trussed up in your room writing words that seemed like they wouldn’t connect with people; but somehow, underneath all that, knowing that what you have to say is worth something, is meaningful, has value, will resonate with others. It was a song that was truly uplifting, both in its content and in its reminder that music is important, that it can touch people, and if you think you’re halfway capable of the tunes that can change someone’s day, week, year or life, then you should never stop making it. So here’s to you, Ghostpoet; and with that, I’m off to play your tune again.