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my pretend magnum opus - the motivations of pleasing yourself

So, this is an essay, relating to my thoughts about tackling the website in the first place. It's a reminder of nothing ventured, nothing gained. A reminder that will-power, self-motivation, and all that jazz, can get you through those exasperating 'What's the point of it all?' moments.

I mean, on a good day, you realize the folly of getting in a tizz when you should be taking a hypothetical chill-pill instead (or one of those 'fruity' ones the rev had one night). Don't talk yourself out of being creative for fear that your efforts 'won't be good enough', that's daft.

The Magnum Opus part comes in because that's what the website built up to in my mind. The dictionary says:

Magnum opus (Latin) noun. Great work of art, literature etc. especially an artist's most important work.

What a grand term! And yet somehow appropriate because, when I start something, I end up believing that if a masterpiece isn't on the cards, then I shouldn't even begin. This self-pressure side of me is a pain. I have to run to stand still. Maybe it pays off in one way because it can, albeit rarely, lead to a result I am impressed with to the extent it feels as if I can't have been the one who did the work in the first place. Maybe version ten of this website will impress me.

So, in this ramble, I am taking the p*ss out of myself, the over-wrought inner-artiste side of me. There may be people out there who recognize elements of themselves in here, whilst others might advise therapy. At least give me a chance to explain. And this is the nearest thing you'll get to an 'About Me' page, so that's the good news.

And don't worry, signs of megalomania exist on all personal websites.

"Oh no, not another magnum opus"

That's the trouble when I start something. I've not long embarked on the creative process when the sudden fear of how it will all end descends upon me.

It begins well enough. I have the initial idea and a warm glow about what it will become - a compelling notion of its scope and destiny. I begin and I learn as I go, knowing I can go further than I first imagined. I am cheerfully caught up in the work, which grows apace.

But then the self-doubt arrives, asking if I'm up to the mark. Will the end result be good enough? Will it say enough, mean enough? This is silly, I think, but it starts to feel serious. I should have had a proper plan, should know exactly where I'm going but don't. Self-doubt - don't you hate it? It becomes debilitating, so you must squish it to carry on.

Because you know that every journey begins with a single step and the more steps you take, the more you can achieve. Even if you 'fail' you have learned. But you mustn't fail, why should you?

But doubt lingers.

You realize there is now a magnum opus ahead of you and nobody put it there but YOU. You threw down the gauntlet to yourself and you picked it up. The self-taunt: 'You can't do it - you won't'. The self-answer: 'Just watch me!' (no I'm not a split-personality).

You remember the phrase 'What is written without effort is read without pleasure'. You look at what you've done so far and it seems as nothing. You wonder if you can ever really please your harshest audience - yourself. You wish you could tell yourself to f*ck off sometimes (so do your friends) but you can't, you're a team.

So you carry on, stepping tenaciously. You follow the path, it grows fainter at times and you meander off into the forest, following a few false trails, making daisy chains, occasionally tripping over and getting cut and scratched in the undergrowth. Then you're lost, but you remember you have a compass and find your way again. And at night you are guided by the stars.

You are drawn onwards by a radiant but uncertain goal, a soft-focus vision of perfection. Like a rainbow's end, you know it to be unattainable but you strive nonetheless. Because even at your lowest ebb, your tiredest moments, threads of belief will guide you on to something that's more important to you than you'll ever know why.

Even as you weary of those false trails, of outside distractions and constant obstacles, you are lifted by the thought that surely it will all mean something to someone somewhere. You realize that all of these things you must do for yourself are really what you must do for others. The human condition.

As you forever step towards your magnum opus you are aware of a lower path which stops sooner and leads nowhere. The one where the 'm' word is 'millstone' (around your neck). A path you will fall to if the task becomes so exaggerated in your mind that it weighs you down completely. Fall there and you are beaten and - worst of all - you did it to yourself.

There are no threads of belief or triumphal imaginings there to lead you on. No certainty of something to be gained and given. Just a bleak despair that you have come so far and yet... and yet are still so far from where you meant to be.

Fear of failure lies between you and crashing to the shorter nowhere path but if 'avoiding failure' is your only motivation, you know you may as well stop now.

But you are stronger than that. You are better than that. You banish self-doubt. You straighten your back and gaze again to the far horizon. You imagine your destination whilst learning to enjoy the journey. You will read more, write more, trash more of what you've written, rewrite more, learn more and you do it all because it is fun. That's all you need to remember. It's not a choice between 'a masterpiece' or nothing at all.

You remember that when the other stuff of life gets in your way, you still have the small pleasures to rely upon. In this case, your Marilyn Manson magnum opus, your pet website, spawning unintended new pages as it grows. Rough around the edges, idiosyncratic, serious, silly, incomplete, organized, disorganized, anything and everything at once (to me). You love it, you tend it, it responds. You need each other.

The tendrils of baser concerns try to pull you away. It's not important, they say, it's trivial, it's meaningless - we're what matters. You listen to this for only so long. You fly into a rage! Life is not all about routine and drudgery, you seethe. You beat them back. They cower and hide and you know you've won this round. But they'll be back. And you'll be ready for them.

Because it may seem to others like a mad bad and dangerous to go there world of trivia you inhabit online but you know better than that, you love it. You've staked your claim in the cyber cosmos and you're not giving it up to anyone - tune in the day I have to eat my words.

You are defiant. You are the website hedonist and there are others like you. Driven by imperfect motives and the joys of cranking the handle of your own virtual printing press, you html the world. Marilyn Manson - your magnum opus. Marilyn Manson - the meaning, the message, and you, the mercurial messenger.

All just a little piece of online personal heaven - with myself as my own digital muse.

THE END ... which will lead to another beginning.

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

- Chinese proverb
Never be too chicken to give it a try.
Never be too chicken to give it a try.