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.
22 thoughts on “I Wonder”
Insert insightful response…..Your words tossed my eyes back to my brain so I will sit with that for a while–rather than try to pull them back out to this box.
Katie, thanks … I hope your eyes being tossed back wasn’t a tumor or something. I have that effect sometimes.
To quote Kindergarten cop “It is not a tumor.” My eye did twitch a little the rest of the day 8)
I wonder into the light only to be surrounded by darkness. (quoting my teenage self, I could not resist after re-reading above.)
Reblogged this on Imperfect Passion.
I, for one, do not care if you ever read a thing I blog. My blog is for me to pound the keys and scream out my few brief words…I do put things in there to share with others as well as my writings because I have a few people who want to read what I write every time I post and like my pictures.
That being said, it thrilled me when you read and commented on something I wrote!! I was honored, thank you!
The reason I read your blog is to read from opinions and struggles and ideas from someone who isn’t afraid to say what he thinks to the world. I may not be the world watching back but I am reading, in my corner of the world!
I have just started reading your first book, Discovery. Please give me some time to get through it, for as much as my soul screams write my discipline to write is nil, and my comprehension of what I read is less than that. I am one of those people who reads quietly aloud to myself so I can hear the story being told. It truly is a frustrating quality!
When I finish your book and before I start the second I will write to you and tell you my exact feelings. I am not going into this to read what I want it to say but to journey through your mind, to feel the emotions you are evoking through your words.
Chin up, Bill!! Chin up!
I think one day I would like to know an author, who would read me their work so I can hear their inflections and emphases, and maybe even pausing to explain when i tilt my head a bit.
But the tiny tea cup? Aw hell naw, gimme my tea in a big ass mug with sugar and cream and lots of laughter with a friend…i love your flower picture. Happy ending!!
Amy, thanks so much. I would love to have a friend whom wanted me to read something to them. I found one once, and married her. Should have kept her as a friend. Marriage ruins so many wonderful relationships. 🙂
This morning through the garden doors into my bedroom, I walked past my unmade bed, and sat down at the screen in my study and stared at the blinking cursor. I realised I could see the reflection of my unmade bed in the screen. So I swivelled my office chair around and really looked back through the doorway (which has no door) at this unmade bed, white smashed pillows, white sheets all wrinkled and twisted, white cotton blanket shoved to the end of the bed, in a most undignified manner, and I thought. I should take a pic of that bed. I would call it dirty pillows.
I turned back to the screen and scrolled down all the blogs i follow, click, dull, click, dull, click, not reading, then opened yours and there was a pic of your bed with your white covers and white pillows and the laptop. And I thought. Hmm. And being such an incredibly articulate and insightful person I said aloud to myself. “Weird” … “cool’ I smiled. Then I read. I am so shallow!! You did not start too late! I come here because I feel a connection with you and your writing. c
You are someone I absolutely wish I knew in person. But I would need to buy boots before visiting you. Thanks. 🙂
And I do not believe for an instant that you are shallow. Beautiful, shallow women do not run farms. Ever. Being lovely is enough for them.
You and I in boots would be a riot! Or we would start one! c
“I’m not looking for someone to help me jerk off.” Love it – I have been considering a post about this – reading others so they read me and visa versa….over the last couple of months I have pulled away from following many blogs for this reason. I think there is a natural arc to it….
I now follow few, am less concerned about those following me, more concerned about the relationships I am building and the connections I am making. I have to have faith that there are others in the same boat – your post was very validating as it speaks to it with acuity.
I have a friend who is a painter and he became so consumed by creating what ‘would sell’ that it froze his hand. I think we have to describe our world and leave the results up to someone else or start a new career as an agent.
I am not a salesman – I really, really suck at it.
I am a writer. So are you.
Thank you. It was disheartening the 1st time I had a blog, and went a week without commenting on others. I went from 100 people per day to maybe 5 or 6. Two of them are still close friends. One I married. I’d rather deal with reality.
It was reinforced when I posted an overlong, perhaps 1000-word blog post. Someone clicked “like” within 10 seconds. Clearly, people are following randomly, and going through their readers hitting the like button on all they follow. Why is that even a thing? I don’t care about the numbers. I’m writing this in case others can relate. That’s all.
Love this. So real, fresh, and raw….and well written. I understand these thoughts, well. I wonder the same things, for various reasons. I love to feel connected, seen, and heard. I also love doing the same for others, letting them know they shine! And you certainly do. I am an artist, I don’t think I’m a bad artist, but I connect—I live to connect. So thanks for this. I follow a lot of blogs, and it was a joy to read your work. Keep shining! Sam 🙂
Sam, thank you for taking the time to comment. I look forward to connecting with you. I think the best artists connect with others – that’s the secret reason behind the art, in my opinion.
I have a friend who is obsessed with minute details of the inner workings of plants – especially mushrooms.It’s a small field to be in and not very interesting to most people.She probably has one person to talk to about it (not me!) , I feel for her but at the same time I’m inspired by her.She loves it and she continues the research and the field work regardless – it makes her happy.Writing, on the other hand, is a kind of a conversation and we do feel alone when we don’t get some kind of reply. It’s crap really!
I find blogging quiet time-consuming, so I often don’t comment even though I want to because I feel guilty, or the dinner’s burning or my son needs me, or my husband is sighing. I still get excited about ‘likes’ – I’m a Leo, it’s my ego – even though my brain knows it’s not sincere. Maybe when I’ve blogged as long as you have bill, I’ll see the light. thanks for being there..
I am a Leo as well, so I do know what you mean. It’s taken a while to be able to let my ego go. Writing is a second career for me, so I don’t have much time – it makes things harder.
that means you have birthday soon. I, the leo live with my husband (leo)and son (leo) – in one house! It’s not pretty – I’m not really one for astrology but in this case the evidence is clear.The world is not designed for leos, we are the ones who must adapt.
So you know, I hit the “Like” button because I can relate to you in quite a few ways. For ones, creative side of life is not the only side there is to me – I have a career in Real Estate, and I usually leave this part out of the picture, so that brokers and investors I am working with won’t get disappointed or suspicious I am too different. I have started blogging just a few months ago, and I enjoy doing it, but my passion is music and songwriting. I read other bloggers writings because I learn a lot from them, and most importantly – I am getting inspired… 🙂
I am glad you stopped by, and that I could help inspire you. 🙂 I do understand about not wanting to be different. I’m just glad I reached the point where it’s okay to be different. I even have one of my books on display in my office.
Well, I kind of enjoy being different, it’s just that I feel it’s best for business for people to see me as a serious person. For instance, I’d much rather be dressed hip hop style at all times, but I don’t think I’d look appropriate dressed like that next to my clients who wear formal suits and ties all the time… LOL
No, I suppose not. I’m glad we’re past suits and ties where I work.
Lucky for you!:)
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