This One Thing

You know, when I wasn’t writing, life was a lot simpler. Before I decided to write, and keep on writing no matter what, it was much easier to be happy. I would just get busy. Busyness is easy when you know how. You just take a whole lot of stuff someone else created and shuffle it around into something resembling new. It’s called organisation. I’m working on this theory about choleric, compulsively organised people. I think they, like critics, are artists in denial. I think they would make amazing, wonderful and original art if only they would stop moving other peoples things around into new arrangements for a while. If they could stand to permit themselves to sit with chaos, they might start creating something truly new. I am starting to see that my ability to co-ordainate, facilitate and organise things is actually a very finely tuned, well-practiced and innate form of chronic procrastination.

image credit flickr

I sort existing things so I can avoid the risk of bringing new things into existence.

Creativity is scary. There are critics out there. There are people who are better than you are at it out there too. There are competitors, the more naturally gifted, those who have had support and opportunity thrown at them, those who have natural talent and no personality flaws to sabotage themselves with, the bastards. There are artists out there who’ve been hung in galleries, who’ve been published, who’ve already recorded, who’ve been paid, applauded and inducted into halls of fame even. Why would you dare bring your art into this world? You’ll be crucified.

But what can you do?

Once you’ve made something you recognise as your art – your truth, your life, your thoughts, your imagination, your skill, your belief, your work – and you know it to be truly you and truly art, you are ruined forever. Once you know you can do it, you always want to do it, or die trying. Just try stopping. No matter how clever and complex the procrastination, you’ll never be able to be sane again unless you’re doing that thing. It has to come forth – no matter how busted, pathetic and forlorn it is – your art will crave to be expelled from you like a demon, and it won’t leave you alone. You’ll beg for peace and eventually relent to putting brush to canvas, pencil to paper, just to find release from arts torment at wanting to be made. There is no bitterness more dour than an artist driven to the emptiness with a mind exploding for the ideas inside it, only to find all that comes forth is a vapid dribble, a broken line, a stupid empty string of words without any meaning or relevance or beauty whatsoever. And you will despair for your very life. You must do it, yet do it you cannot.

I thought I was a servant of art, but I’ve become no more than a slave. I can stand back and wonder at my quality sometimes, yet I know it’s never mine to trade on. The art itself has stolen the quality away from me, banked it up into the collective appreciation of what we as humans believe is meaningful and beautiful – that man can make with his hands anyway.  My work becomes mine no more, and becomes heavens fruit, hells spawn, possessed of the whole world, reflective of all men, or even just of one man or woman. I can’t draw on my arts value, once it’s out of me; on its merit or it’s wonder. Everything that is good about it reflects not this particular corrupted human, but speaks of the higher forms and powers, the spirits that inflict us sometimes with the possession, the consumption, the compulsion we call so blithely call inspiration.

And I can’t help myself.

When I become interrupted from art-making, as I am now, the inspiration doesn’t leave me. It tortures me. I hate it, because it won’t shut the fuck up. It nags and nags to be made, and then when I sit here to do it, it coyly hides itself and wants to be coaxed out. I don’t want to coax it. I want to smack it’s bare shoulders and drag it into the light where all of you can see how terrible and sublime it really is. Then I want to kiss it full on the mouth and make it read itself back to me over and over, until I’m sure again it was all right for me to be born; if only I can do This One Thing.

This One Thing.

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One Reply

  • I sort existing things so I can avoid the risk of bringing new things into existence.

    Really like this succint sentence.

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