It’s amazing the futility creating art in obscurity can be. You’re a virtual unknown with an unproven track record as a creative entity. Sure, you’ve had a dozen or so of your stories published, half that number in poetry published, and at least 50 journalistic articles published, yet still your readership seems ethereal. It may be hyperbolic to say that absolutely no one knows the work you’ve created – the stories you’ve written and had published, the articles you’ve penned and published as well, the music you’ve crafted on your own and shared with an unsuspecting world, only to receive the response of crickets in an empty amphitheater – but that’s exactly what it oftentimes feels like.
The whole reason creatives absolutely have to share their creations, even within what’s essentially a vacuum, is not so much about the hope and quest for validation, although that is certainly a strong motivator, but the primary reason is to simply to connect with others, provided an audience is found. Art is about bringing together disparate souls that would otherwise not ever come in contact with one another. It is in that instance that we all become a little less alone.
It was only a year ago, perhaps, that we finally reconnected after so many long years of estrangement, forced and unforced. I was so glad to finally repair the disconnect that wayward siblings tend to create between them over the years. Of all of us kids you were always the wildchild, always anxious and on-the-go, yet clearly motherhood looks good on you. Last summer I swelled with pride when I got to see you in super-mom mode with your kids, those beautiful and fun-loving nieces and nephews of mine. But you refuse to sit still. And now you’re gone. Again. I’m sorry that I have failed you. I feel that as your big brother, your only brother, I am supposed to protect you from all monsters, real and imagined; chase away unworthy boys when you were younger, veto all unsavory men when you’re older; assure you that you don’t need to accept that which is not good enough for you, show you that you shouldn’t settle for what you do not need, or fall for yours or someone else’s foolish plan. Ultimately, I was supposed to help save you from yourself. I didn’t. Again. Everyone says it’s not my job to do that, that it’s not my responsibility and that the choices you make are your own. But that doesn’t change the responsibility and the guilt I feel for having not fulfilled that unspoken contract that is signed between brother and sister through their shared blood. I love you. I miss you. We all do.
There’s something to be said about the burden of talent. When one believes he has it, right or wrong, he is bound and driven to do something with it. And just like the talent itself, the constant nagging to use it is innate. I can’t watch TV for more than three hours because I get an anxious voice in my head chastising me, saying “You should be in your office creating. Slacker.” And reading? A few pages in and my mind is saying “Why are you reading another person’s words when you should be writing your own, slacker?” Nevermind the fact that to write well one must read often. Sigh. And while at work? There’s no bigger conflict of interest for a creative person than having to work any job that isn’t one that allows for an expression of one’s creativity.
A creative mind never sleeps. A creative soul is forever restless.
Reading: The Drop by Dennis Lehane, Hard Feelings by Jason Sarrr
To make any progress on these various works-in-progress and works-in-revision, I absolutely MUST fall in love again with my own words, instead of holding them and myself in contempt. Once I finish wrapping up some things for others here in April, the month of May will be all about getting back in bed with my own writing with the explicit purpose of producing more literary offspring.
There are times when there is so much I need to do – and so much that I truly want to do and accomplish and succeed at – that at the end of the day I find myself having done none of it at all. No progress made. Nothing ventured. Nothing offered. Nothing gained. It is as if the very weight of those goals and hopes and dreams – the responsibility of it all and the fear of failure – they crush me into the earth like excessive gravity, thereby rendering me inert. This cannot be. If I am to be progressive I must be in constant motion, always doing, always moving, like a shark. Sharks keep moving because failing to do so would mean their death. I am not yet ready to die. I must remain ravenous, act accordingly and get after it. Yet I unwittingly allow my trepidation to impede my need to proceed and succeed.
LISTENED: “White Walker” by Mastodon, Michael Jackson, Dr. Dre + Snoop Dog
Not-so-random late night thought: if you have to go out of your way to express hate about something or someone that does you no actual harm, then that says so much more about you than it does about the target of your hate. Why spend the unnecessary energy and emotion towards hating when you can simply use avoidance? You’re doing it all wrong.
There are days when I am very thankful for the advent of social media and networking. As an info junkie it keeps me informed, and as a sometimes social butterfly I flit from flower to flower a few times a day to achieve a semblance of a social life, which is an activity that happens to be in lieu of more tangible interactions with actual, touchable, acquainted and friendly human beings. However, often I contemplate receding from social media and fully embracing what would be a truly hermitic existence, the company of my nuclear family notwithstanding, of course. To what benefit, one might wonder? Hmm. I can only imagine the amount of writing I could get done. Perhaps some time better spend reading books? Playing my shamefully neglected guitars? Actually sit my restless self down to watch movies, like old times? Catch up on sleep? Study the culinary arts? The most rewarding of all those things, of course, is the writing. While in retreat I could simply create a surrogate reality with my ability to put words into sentences, combine sentences into paragraphs and arrange paragraphs into pages as I create stories. Were I on some kind of great retreat, say, on a remote island with nothing even coming close to resembling the din of urban noise, or the virtual white noise of social media — yes, I would write stories to fill that void. And, I suppose, I’d also do a great deal of reading and listening to music. These are three of my most favorite things to do when on my own and not punching into a someone else’s clock. The commonality between that triad of activities is that their occupation of one’s time is most optimal away from the larger world, in solitude.
Listened: Daughter, Sean Lennon, Angus & Julia Stone