Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Is that what you do it for?

I've seen many talented people in different fields slaving away at their art, only to grow bitter because it is not recognized. They grow to hate something they used to love to do - not because they were bad! But because they resent their art for not making them a living. For not garnering them success, or notice.

Worse, they grow to hate others in their chosen field for getting notice. "Why them and not me?" I've seen people who loved music so much they wanted to do it for life grow to hate music, and no longer want to make or hear any new music. And for "music" substitute "art." Or writing. Or acting. Or anything.

It's tragic - not just their pain, but the loss of their voice as an artist. I can't understand. I love music so much I want to do it for my whole life - I've got that. No one can take it from me. No one has to buy. No one has to pay me, so I'm not at the world's mercy. Or take poetry. I'm reasonably convinced that poems do not, can not get one noticed outside a very small circle of unusual people. So I've written at least 365 poems every calendar year since 2009 - for no reason? No, I write them because it is joy to be able to create even one thing one loves. Songs are my main love, as a writer. I write the song for the song, and for no other reason. I write a song to get the song - to get a song I love! To get a song I want to have.

What do people want to get out of creating art? If it isn't the piece of art itself, the creation - if that's not what you want to get out of the act of creation, aren't you in it for the wrong reasons? Isn't your heart in the wrong place, and don't you deserve to fail?

If you love creating something, you stick with it. You have nothing to prove by sticking with it. Quitting is fine, if you're not into it. Quitting over these other reasons (success? getting paid?), just means you weren't into the thing itself. If you love creating something, you do stick with it. Fuck the world, the audience, fuck who's buying. Who cares? Art is just practice. You do it because you love the act.

If it's something you like to do, you keep creating. Create a body of work. Put it someplace visible, sure! Why not? You're not afraid of people seeing it. But don't worry about people seeing it. Give them a chance to, if you like, but don't care who is or isn't seeing your work. Your work is not what you're working on, it's just a by-product. The real thing you are working on is what's wholly yours: a mastery. Your ability, your technique, your practice. A voice of your own as an artist.

And sure, a shit ton of works as well! Some good, some great, some just okay - works that you've strewn in your wake, as you create. Those are neat to look back upon, to see how far you've come, and maybe have a laugh over. But your past works are not a thing you should enslave yourself to, to sell them to the world.

Your art is yours. Don't let anybody else make you do it. Don't let anyone else tell you what it's worth.

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