Thursday, July 4, 2013


I've recently developed this exercise to combat creative self-doubt. It's only a small act that takes place in my tatty magenta-coloured Claire Fontaine A6 cahier. I sit there and with Winston Churchill's Parker pen, I write the heading: What's the Nishi? It's Japanese Cockney rhyming slang my friends and I had made up: Nishinagahori / Story / What's the Nishi? We say it to each other all the time now as a kind of nifty in-joke salutation and in this context, I use it to drain out every fret and anxiety.

It's been hard, embarking on the Consequential Lyrics project on my own. I haven't had any sort of creative consultant on hand, someone to shriek and shake my arm enthusiastically during late night conversations. I've struggled in those moments when I've been compelled to pitch what it encompasses exactly. The premise is simple and intimate, it's both personal and universal. It's been hard but I've risen to the challenge of doing what the project actually requires: faithfully describing the consequence of these songs, sensitively describing the meanings I've assigned to them (without embarrassing anyone too much or getting sued).

In my practice of writing What's the Nishi?, I feel as if I'm sitting down to talk to a hysterical seven-year-old, one that has been throwing a tantrum for no discernible reason. It's important to to listen that raging child, to address them, to allow them to safely express their every angst and plague. At some point, there comes a moment when the anger recedes and the tears stop and there's no longer any rational basis for that anxiety. It's plain to see, in the matching magneta-coloured cursive print, that each of these anxieties can be broken down and addressed in a perfectly rational way.

There's another heading that comes after What's the Nishi?, I write in big letters: How to Progress? Under that heading, I try to combat those anxieties by being kind to myself. I try to think up practical solutions as to how to get over it, whether it be a practical obstacle or an emotional concern. I consider everything one at a time and I break it all down, thinking about what can I do today, this hour, this minute. I congratulate myself on how far I've come, the great amount of work I've already done and I acknowledge how good it will feel once it's actually completed.

I realised some time ago how much I've relied on other people for that creative confidence, how much I drew upon those shrieks and arm shakes. I thought compliments could fill me. I thought if I had enough of them, I would suddenly believe that my work had value. The problem was that I'd neither accept compliments or if I did, they would fade quickly. I never had enough to combat the self-doubt I harboured, but at the same time, I never wanted to quit. I just thought I was doomed to anguish: never believing, never accepting, always doubting.

I wrote a note for my desk:
Consequential Lyrics is worthy of your time and concentration. It is unique and it will encourage others to share something beautiful and important. A compliment won't make you feel better. Completion will.
I realised that's what I need to do to feel better, to calm the hysterics. I need to follow through, I need to complete this. I have forever dreamt of a creative compatriot, a Marr to my Morrissey (or even the other way around) and I wish I could have pulled this off with someone by my side, but I just can't. I just have to sit and push on through alone. I need to consistently convince myself that there is value in this. Whenever I begin to feel that hysterical child pipe up, I know that it's alright. I'll always have time for her, I'll always stop, listen and ask: What's the Nishi?

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