(Editor's Note — Writer's block — the problem every artist dreads. Buffalo's long winter and incessant gray days don't help the cause, either. 1120 Press writer Anthony Wachowiak, a member of the band Mother Nature's Son, takes a look at the issue through the lens of an artist on the local scene.)
Hell freezes over, at least once a year. Old Man Winter skitters across Lake Erie and blows his icy breath over the city.
We shudder together and shelter indoors.
Nothing new… well, since the last Ice Age. This is our plight as Buffalonians, and Northerners, more broadly: to stomp through the snow and feel the wind nip at our faces. It can be grueling to get through, the mental toll of the deep freeze in particular being a common tax on all of us.
So, what of our creatives?
Much of the same, really. Once the excitement and the frenetic pace of summer has died down, a change begins to affect us, in varying intensity. Though plenty of acts progress through the literal and metaphysical frozen landscape, for others, this can be a time of profound withering. When confronted with these writing blocks, creative lulls, and crises of faith, it feels like misery made manifest through nature itself: Not all can simply brush off the snow. It seeps into you, your body and psyche, and in this virus-like motion, it weakens both.
I, myself, have felt the sensation frequently. Between the limits imposed on those with lesser means and the desaturation of life from our surroundings, it feels like your well has dried, like you can’t imagine the will to push forward, to do something beautiful, let alone survive. One cannot simply knock on a neighbor's door to borrow a cup of inspiration, nor sunshine; in the absence of which, it can appear as though the only way through is inward.
This is not as bleak as it seems, of course, for this is the core, the font of magic and the muses may only kiss one pair of lips at a time. As much as some art forms are collaborative, many boil down to a solitary relationship between oneself and the glint of creation. Even in music, much of the time, the sparks can be found alone in the dark. So much of passion and inspiration is found within oneself inherently, and this is the moment to find it.
A lot of that is just living as well, convincing yourself to ‘do it.’ In this sense, creation becomes a microcosm of the world around us, as above, so below, and your feelings are not just the wind coming off the lake, they are gravity which dictates the movement of Newtonian bodies that can move and shape your world.
“It’s difficult to just get yourself moving when you’re down,” acknowledged Josh English, drummer of Grosh. “This January was particularly brutal…isolation with the storm earlier in the month, and a complete lack of sunlight makes it hard to put a smile on your face.
“I find depression for me, seasonal or otherwise, means a lot of just lying in my bed, doing nothing but doom scrolling on Reddit. When this happens,” said Josh, “I have to be my own drill sergeant. I have to tell myself, ‘what are you doing? Get up!’ and kinda force myself out of bed. From there, two things in particular help me:
“One: Give myself a task and accomplish it. This can be chores, practicing drums, promoting shows or my music…anything that feels productive, something that’s enough for me to tell myself that I accomplished something.
“Two: Exercise. I don’t go to the gym as much as I used to, and nowadays when I do, it’s more for the mental health benefit. Something about just moving your body and breaking a sweat, whether it’s lifting weights, beating the shit out of the drums, going for a run or even a walk, or doing a set of push-ups, always brightens my mood. The tough part is convincing yourself to do it.”
Though the “how” is a grand variable, this is indeed the goal, the philosopher’s stone. You just have to start- start doodling, writing, singing to yourself… and in time, somewhere in the charged air, concepts will take form.
Creating lives and dies by doing, and when broken down to its constituent elements, one-on-one with the voice in your head, if you have some sense of a dream, one has to actualize it.
In the end, it’s all you. Master of the Universe, and in spite of the storms inside and out, it’s only an illusion, and it’s yours to shape. It is easy to feel autonomy has been stripped from you by the forces beyond your control, but it’s simply not true.
Everything is fuel for the fire that can illuminate your world, even when it feels darkest, even the darkness itself.