This is one of the days where I awaken, and I wonder if any of this means anything at all.I’m not referring to the big picture – God, life, the universe (or multiverses), the NBA playoffs … no, I’m talking about writing. It is lonely, most of the time, being an artist.
I can sense some of you, the very few of you who will actually read this, nodding your heads. Even so, I wonder if anyone gets what I feel. I mean, truly. I’m past the obvious bits – the stereotypical artist typing away in their lonely pit, scraping the words from the soles of their shoe. No, I’m referring to the loneliness that comes when you want to share the most important piece of yourself, but either they don’t care or they don’t understand.
I have a real life. I have a career, not just a job. I have family, of a sorts. I have friends. Of these, I know of 3 people who care even remotely about my writing. Two are my parents. The third is questionable. I have plenty of writer acquaintances, all met online. Realistically, none of these people really has time to give two damns about my work – they are too busy with their own. And rightly so. Which brings me to my point – the only thing at this stage of my life that I produce that really MEANS something to me, is my writing.
I have come to the conclusion that many artists are reclusive just so they can focus on getting the work done, and ignore the fact that they are being ignored. That doesn’t really work for me. I’m neither a recluse nor a natural introvert. Yeah, I probably spend more time alone that you do, and I’m likely better at it. Doesn’t mean I like it.
But alone puts me in company of the only other artist I know who gives a shit about what I write.
I hated literature in school. I despised it enough that all the way through 12th grade, I considered English to be my worst, and least favorite subject. Then an interesting thing happened: I received an award for Excellence in English. It still sits on the wall in my parents’ house. It’s there as a reminder – just because you don’t like something, doesn’t mean you should avoid it.
See, I was constantly in arguments with English teachers, from grade 1 on. They “interpreted” poetry. They looked for hidden meanings and themes in prose. I told them, respectfully, they were full of crap. When a writer says, “He sat on the park bench, looking at his red Chuck Taylors,” he isn’t projecting his internal rage at the world onto his protagonist. The bench is not a metaphor for the isolation of the modern man, his head bowed, downtrodden, facing his impotence and the ire it causes. No, the writer is saying, “I like red Chuck Taylors, and he’s on a bench because I’m sick of describing the stuff he sees.”
Artists aren’t deep. Bad artists are deep.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have levels – God knows, we have more than most. What it means is that the entire point of sharing art is to get others to understand what is inside. To see it, hopefully, to like it, and to share it with others. Without that, art is just so much mental masturbation.
As a writer, I am very simple, and my needs are simpler. I want this to be your favorite spot, curled up in your little piece of sun, like a cat, with my book. That’s it. Read it because you love it. The end.
And that brings me to my second issue. I started blogging in 2005, and quickly got up to over 100 people per day reading and interacting with me. However, I quickly came to realize that the main reason people read my blog was so that I would continue to read theirs. See, here’s the thing: if you don’t like my writing, if I don’t say anything that inspires you, I don’t want you to click “like.” Don’t read it.
I’m not looking for someone to help me jerk off. I am trying to connect. And, increasingly, I’m wondering if that is even possible. I’m starting to wonder if literature is dead, and no one bothered to inform us.
I’ve been told that “modern literary theory” (aka, pile of bullshit) says that the interpretation of a work – the TRUTH of a story – lies not with the writer, but with the reader. Know why they say that? Because if they don’t, there’s no bloody reason for their teaching, is there? Instead of teaching intelligent people how the fuck to understand something they just read and understood, how about teaching them how to LOVE books. Why not make literature not about the meaning, but about loving the story, enjoying the alliteration, liking the use of metaphor, and, most importantly, how it made you feel, or what it made you think?
How about getting out of the damned story what the artist put into it?
I’m beginning to understand why so much written is crap. We have overanalyzed and killed dead writers’ works so much, living writers just want to put out a story and get paid. It’s the you-read-my-blog-and-I’ll-read-yours school of thought, adapted for commerical use:
“You write a basic story, with no lyricism, no heart, no life, and I’ll help you make it just like the other books I know people liked. If we all like and write the same stuff, no one will ever need to feel odd, or left out again.”
The alternate is to read only non-fiction, where the literary types have fled. We’ll sit around, sip tea, and feel so very educated.
Nah. I guess, all things being equal, I’d rather feel left out.
I know this is a rambling rant. I have ADHD; this is what I do. I’m tired, I’m frustrated, and I really wonder if fiction is as big a circle jerk as poetry. No one reads poetry but other poets. I’ve been in the middle of those circles, and trust me, it ain’t pretty. I wonder if anyone is willing to be different, to try and save the medium before it crashes into crass commercialism, and dies. I wonder if it’s too late to gain an audience for those of us who don’t know how to be like everyone else.
I wonder if I started writing twenty years too late. Maybe I shouldn’t have slept through every English class I ever took. I wonder.
And now, pretty flowers, because I really do believe in happy endings. There’s always photography, I guess. By the way, all the real photos I use on my blog are mine. Don’t steal ’em. The end.