I am an artist
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton , No Man Is an Island
One day (perhaps), I might be able to call myself an artist.
I don't know.
Labels? Sometimes I feel completely done with them. Over. Finito.
Better still. Let the work speak — however it shows up and whatever it looks like.
And to be clear, this isn't replacing work — i.e. the thing we least want to do — with another money-making, ego-fest.
What do I mean?
Well, as Alan Watts so beautifully put it:
"If money was no object what would you do [with your life]?
In putting this out there, I stand ready for the brickbats for two reasons: (1) I'm not walking my talk; and (2) I've meekly said this before and then...done sweet f*ck all — which of course circles back to point 1.
I'm not going to say this time it's different. It's not. Sure the fire has been lit, and I'm stoking it daily (this blog is, I hope, evidence of that) but to quote Bukowski yet again, I'm not and never have gone all the way.
What does that even mean?
To starve for my putative art?
To jack in my job and devout all my massive energy (... it's dwindling fast) to the task at hand, namely, creating a body of work that I can make a living from?
That would be a start.
Or...carry on as I am and see where the road less travelled takes me?
What? Which road have you or your muse travelled less? Well, my art road. To date, I've dabbled in a number of things but never sat back and thought how any of that, in a digital format or otherwise, might (a) already be something to work with and (b) how I might, as someone like Austin Kleon does so well, merge all my eclectic passions, gifts and outpourings into something, perhaps, that's more easily understood by the market.
Also, I need to ensure that I don't set the bar to some stratospheric, out-the-park level. Why? Because I won't get there! Been there, done that, got a few gnarly T-shirts to prove it. Instead, I need to dial down the bullshit, spend less time online and think more carefully about what I'm doing. If that sounds defeatist or suffocating of my muse, then it probably is but I know from bitter experience that I can be seized by the heat of my passion, only to lose it all on the rocks of despair when I don't get the expected return on investment — of whatever is at stake. It's so exhausting to me and everyone else; and usually sets me off in a funk that might last for weeks or even months; and then kills any chance of creating something, anything, worthwhile.
In short, I need to keep things really, really focused if I want to ship something more than a pile of shitty poems, a few repetitive, expletive-filled blog posts and, well, not much else. Instead, I need to do the work that I know I can do each day and every day regardless of my work or family circumstances — e.g. poetry and writing — and then give myself an object of my affection and desire and say: "That'll be the day come hell or high water that it's going out the door." I know it's achievable because I've shipped two small books before.
Perhaps then, with the benefit of something material, I can craft a different narrative. And that means, one day, trusting to the Gods, I won't have to call myself a lawyer or any other label even the rubric to this post!
Much love, Ju