I was down in the depths, utterly confused, frustrated and lost. I just couldn’t figure it out. How do I get out of this? How do I make myself heard? How can I clear things up for myself and my surroundings? My song lyrics did not resonate, my drawings couldn’t paint a clear picture and my explanations only raised more questions. My final shot in the dark was writing. Taking the time to sit down and write a book. Now books aren’t the quickest vehicle for delivering information. It takes a while to read them and it takes even longer to write them. So starting on a journey where my voice would only be heard a couple of years down the line might not have been the most logical solution in that time of my life. But I think I subconsciously started writing because I knew it would last. It was never going to be immediate, not the process, not getting the message out there. But once it was done, it would be there for a long, long time. Not set in stone, but eternalized in ink.
My biggest problem in explaining my darkness was always that no one ever understood it. It wasn’t that my explanations sucked or that I only told it to bad listeners, but it was always under the wrong circumstances. After-parties, drunk people, people who didn’t care or an overclocked, stressed out brain of mine that would skip certain essential parts.
But more often than not, I tried to explain what was happening when everything was primed to explode. On the verge of being evicted, during episodes of glorified self-destruction, or when my actions put other people into a position where they had to undertake immediate action to salvage the shipwreck that was my life. Explaining something in that moment is rather useless. Everyone around me is sweating buckets, fearing for a life, whilst trying to decide which wire to cut on the bomb that I built and activated. Meanwhile I’m in the corner telling them where I got the copper wires and how many screws I’ve used.
When the defusal of the bomb is over, we all return to normal. Them not understanding why I created it, me not understanding why they did not pay attention to my explanation of how it got built. I get upset for not being understood, they get upset that a new bomb timer has started ticking already.
But then. Then I started writing. I accepted my poor timing and stopped focusing on the ticking of the clock. I took the time. I learned how to stop worrying and love the bomb.
If I’m truly honest, I never thought I would finish it. I mean… What the hell do I know about this? How could a fucked up mind explain a fucked up mind? But the ticking of the bomb didn’t matter. Just write. I never really finished anything in my life, let alone excelled at something to the degree a book should be to be considered ‘readable’.. Tik, tok, tik tok. Doesn’t matter, just keep writing. Your life is falling apart, you’re getting old, you are wrong. Detonation in T-minus 4 minutes. I’m not worried, I want to keep writing.
A good couple of chapters deep into my book, it wasn’t even about getting my book out there anymore. I was just thoroughly enjoying writing. It validated my own thoughts, I was proud that I was able to fully write out my thoughts and, to my own surprise, it was actually quite decent writing. It became a puzzle every night, how do I tell this story? What words should I use so that people who feel similar to me can relate but people who have no idea can understand? Could I write a chapter that would make sense to my mom but that could also hit the right spot with a reader on the other side of the globe?
Since a young age I always loved drawing. Dragon Ball Z characters, Pokémon, Spiderman and all sorts of comic book characters. Putting a pencil to paper and a short while later there would be a person, landscape or even story on the page. I could decide on the pose, the emotion and the intensity. I could decide what emotion I wanted to convey by drawing a slightly more angled line for the eyebrow. I could tell a story with the lead from my pencil. 28 year old me decided to do the same but I swapped out the lead of my pencil for the keys of my keyboard. I was drawing with words. And it saved me.
I was in a dark place. I can handle hurt, sadness and darkness. I’d be a terrific spy because I can withstand an enormous amount of torture. But hopelessness is my Achilles heel. And Jesus fucking Christ was I hopeless. Everything I did was on such a short timeline that success and failure were always immediate. But writing forced me to accept that this would take me at least two years to even finish it. Two years that could have also taken five for all I cared. I enjoyed that time so fucking much and it got me out of that dark depth because it gave me something I enjoyed with no time or strings attached. Months went by where I was just writing. I would skip nights of drinking in a bar just to be able to write. I’d force myself out of my Netflix couch-potato mode because I just wanted to spend an hour writing before I went to bed. I did this for two whole years. English, Dutch, stuff that made it into the book, more stuff that didn’t. I enjoyed it all.
Then the book came out. The writing of Darkness for Sale was done. Now it was no longer about being written but more about being read. and I think I expected more. Don’t get me wrong, considering the effort I put into the marketing, darkness for sale sold very well. But I think I secretly hoped that people would be so touched that it would inspire them to become ambassadors of my writing. Some were, some never read it. To be fair, that doesn’t matter. The book wasn’t written to be a success. It was written because I like writing. But that one specific feeling is the one I forgot.
Without being melodramatic, writing Darkness for Sale saved my life. Without any doubt, those crummy little words in this self-published book saved my entire existence. And not even in a suicide kind of way, to be honest, suicide seems like a godsend compared to what the fuck I can endure. I knew I’d never kickstart myself kicking the bucket, but it was a guarantee that I would become a martyr of my own darkness if I could not give myself a way out. And writing gave me that. But I was writing to finish my book. After my book was finished, everything changed. All of a sudden I wasn’t writing anymore, I was trying to sell. The ticking of the bomb started again, but now it was counting down to an explosion based on likes, sales, and reviews. Darkness became analytics, and the writing stopped. I wrote to finish a book, now that book is done, so why keep writing? So I stopped. and to be fair, with good reason when it concerns readership. At the time of writing, I sold about 260 books of darkness, without a doubt I can tell you that 100 of those did not read it in full. Maybe because it might be shit, maybe because it didn’t suit them or maybe because they just bought it because they wanted to support me. I can say without a doubt that all of those reasons are fucking valid and I appreciate all of their purchases. My words are not destined to be read by everyone, they do not deserve to be, they do not have to be. They should be read as they were written. Because they wanted to be.
But I need to remember why I wrote them as well. I loved it. It helped me. I did it for me, It was written for me, by me. Before my words became a book, before anyone read it, typing those words saved my life. And I managed to forget.
But I won’t let that happen again. I am not writing for you, I did not write this for likes, hearts or fame. I wrote this for myself. And if you want to see what I wrote then you can, but this is mine. This is my salvation, my hobby, my stress reliever. I’m going to keep on writing.
Because writing saved my life, and I’m not going to forget that again.