The second volume of A Journal for Damned Lovers documents my literary footsteps over a period of twelve months, and while it carries on from where the first volume left off, it is in itself a new journey. Truth be told, the prose in the first volume was written with little to no destination in mind. It was only in the editing process that I tried to get some forward momentum going. As a result, much of the prose included in the first volume is abstract in nature. It exists in the moment. It neither looks to the future or the past. The are benefits to this style of writing, but on reflection, more often than not it lacks in emotional impact. There is no regret in this process, however, for it needed to occur for me to progress. On reflection, the first book is a series of sketches. Some are in synch, others are out of place. Fledgling footsteps are how I described them at the time.
So how does the second volume vary? Well, I knew I couldn’t just be working on another random collection of prose. Instead, I needed to cultivate a vision. Not long after the first volume came out, I asked myself a question. It’s a simple one, and one I’m sure most people ask themselves at some point in their lives. What sets my life apart from other people’s? Everyone experiences life in a unique way. Everyone has a distinct set of memories and motivations. And yet so many end up presenting a sanitised version of themselves and in the process they disappear into the background. You could argue that as long as you enjoy the life you lead, it doesn’t matter if you stand out, and I would be in agreement with this. However, with only a limited amount of time on this pale blue dot, I think we should stick our necks out. Do we leave a memorable impression, or do we merely fit in and go with the flow?
When I sat down to write the prose that would go on to form the second journal, it was at the forefront of my mind to hold nothing back. I wanted to give the reader a complete experience of who and what I am. There’s strength and tenderness and moments of beauty, but then there’s weakness and boredom and perversion, and it’s in these less than savoury moments I found myself flourishing. With time, I’ve gone on to relish painting myself in an imperfect manner, because through these imperfections my vulnerabilities have shown me as being a real person driven by mistakes and regrets. I live with the guilt of my actions and the knowledge that my artistic vision has caused pain to those I’ve loved, and yet each word is a celebration, not an apology. My vision has seen me stalk the outskirts of society, because only there has it been possible to find the freedom to be myself.
Jumping back and forth between the past and present, I’ve captured the breakdowns of relationships as well as fragile moments of bliss. I’ve relived fleeting triumphs and tasted humiliation knowing just how stupid and reckless my actions have been. I consider myself to be a good man, but I’m also a selfish and lazy one, and on more than one occasion I’ve hurt others and treated them unfairly without taking into account the consequences of my actions. I am no different than many others in this sense, but with my prose, I’ve set about trying to understand the reasons why. Each time I’ve sat down to write there has been a determined effort not only to seek answers but to seek the questions as well. It’s draining and damning. It’s time-consuming and antisocial. It’s ironic, as in trying to grasp what it is to be human I’ve been doing my best to shy away from the contact of others, for silence is such a vital ingredient. As I mentioned, only by taking a step back is it possible to see things for how they really are.
There’s a lyric by Kris Kristofferson used in one of my favourite films, Taxi Driver. It goes, ‘He’s partly truth, partly fiction, a walking contradiction’. My confusion has been the source of much of my sadness, and yet I’ve come to embrace it as my defining characteristic, and as such, it’s a weapon. On the pages of the second journal, I’ve attempted to use it to its best effect. That’s my vision. Not to be seen as successful or clever, or someone who never put a step wrong. No, I want to be seen as a fuck-up; a fuck-up who never gave up on his dreams of doing things differently. A fuck-up who, for better or for worse, held his nerve before diving into the rabbit hole.
The second volume of A Journal for Damned Lovers is due out in October.