Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Creating at some Level

I bring myself to write this post for a couple of reasons, both of which are rather selfish and self-serving on some level. I do think that writers do tend to be rather narcissistic on some level, some more so than others. Who else in the world actually WANTS people to read what they've written (Emily Dickenson and her literary siblings nonwithstanding)? Is there another group of people in the world who really think that the rest of the world (or at least a healthy, interested, consuming/purchasing chunk of that world) really WANTS to read what they've written? And then what about those of us "writers" who really haven't written anything for the mass public to read, besides these cute little blogs of ours (and besides, who really reads these things besides our friends who've ALL heard these thoughts from us before)?

We're a sad bunch sometimes....

Anyway, I'd have to say that my first reason is, while I have relished the opportunities I've provided myself to allow others to read/peruse/critique my poetry, I haven't written an essay in several weeks and I miss doing such. On one hand, it might be that I simply desire the chance to engage in a healthy spate of journaling in order to clear my mental tanks of month of contemplation. On the other hand, maybe I just want to see my own words in "print."

Second, I think that I DO want to see my own words in print. I come back to that narcissistic diatribe of mine 2 paragraphs ago -- why is my writing worth anything to anyone besides myself? Why do I think that I have something to say that someone else might want to hear? But when it all boils down to the hardcore issues about which I question myself, I find it hard to shut myself up. I find it fairly difficult to stop my mind from thinking, my imagination from dreaming & creating, my intellect from analyzing and providing perspective, my mouth from moving, my pen from writing, and my fingers from typing.

What am I telling myself here? What do I think I'm trying to say with such passionate words concerning my desires & dreams for my present and future? The kicker is that, while I don't know what I'm trying to say, I do know that I have to keep typing, dreaming, thinking, and creating in hopes that something might happen. I can't stop and I think that's a good thing. At least I think it's a good thing. Creativity does present some problems.

I have a good friend who's been struggling with where he wants to go in life. He recently left the group in which he'd been playing guitar for a few years now (and loved doing so). They were a decently-traveled band who had regular gigs, regular shows, and a great sound. He really enjoyed his work. The problem arose in that he began to feel trapped into that role, into that job without much chance of upward mobility in a socioeconomic sense. He felt, as many male artists (Rilke had such agonizing dilemmas) have typically felt -- it's often so financially impossible to pursue your art wholeheartedly AND raise a family without feeling that you're just "not doing enough." (On a related note, ask any pastor in a small/growing church -- the sense of not being able to provide for your family is SUCH an intimidating concern.) Yes, men in general typically feel this way, but my friend and I do think that struggling musicians (or wannabe writers in my case) have it doubly hard -- the desire to be creative, to live by your art becomes a burden when you lead a family, what with all the bills to pay, mouths to feed, people to clothe.

My friend and I do NOT begrudge our talents and abilities -- we often do begrudge the fact that we are NOT allowed to follow our passion full-time in many cases. We are forced to supplement our income with some job that doesn't feed our creative impulses. (Please cease and desist with your examples of people who HAVE done so -- I'm not some William Faulkner who can write As I Lay Dying in 5-6 weeks while working in an industrial factory.) Our attempts to be socially and financially responsible are in constant conflict with our burning desires to create something, create anything, that satisfies (or sometimes spurs on) our creative juices.

Is focus the issue? It could be. I space out more often than I'd like. If I don't space out, I subconsciously find ways to NOT engage my mind -- Yahoo Messenger (and related messenger programs MUST be listed as probably THE greatest time-wasting devices in the history of the world). Granted, on some level, I think that lack of focus is a symptom -- a symptom of a mind/life in conflict between what has to be done out of duty and what should be done out of passion & purpose. At least, I tell myself that when I get distracted....

I say all that to say this -- I'm a writer, at least I want to be one in some professional capacity. I'm not asking to be some multi-million-book-selling phenomenon (think JK Rowling, Stephen King, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, etc). I have decent aspirations -- write a decent screenplay, make the movie for it, get stable work as an essayist/writer for magazines that I like reading (HM, The Nation, Mother Jones, The Believer, Relevant, etc), maybe a book or three of essays or fiction. Am I selling myself short? Am I being too pragmatic? Should I run to the nearest HR firm or political think-tank working 50 hours a week to quell my idealistic expectations of my art/creativity? I'm not looking for pats on the back or sympathy for my bleeding heart; I'd rather like some constructive criticism and some advice. Is that too much to ask?

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