Friday, April 30, 2010

Life As Art! Authentic art!

Still alive! I think...

Crikey, it’s been ages since I’ve written anything for this blog and I’ve no idea why. I suppose I go through introspective phases, where much of my energy is drawn inward and I really don’t have much to say or anything especially scintillating to contribute.

What I energy I have had has been channelled into the writing my novel, of which I’ve endeavoured to write three pages a day. That’s the ideal quota, although it hasn’t always run quite as smoothly as that! There have been barren patches...and I'm taking a little break just now as I gear up to write the big climax. In spite of the ups and downs, I’m getting near the end of the first draft, after which I will heave a sigh of relief and then embark upon the endless series of rewrites that are necessary to scrub it up into something that, I hope, is publishable.

And then, of course, I will swear to myself that I will never again write fiction. Writing a novel is a backbreaking, exhausting, soul-depleting process at times...don't get me wrong, it’s fun, exciting, electrifying and deeply fulfilling as well...but it's a known fact that for all the hard labour and blood, sweat and tears that an author pours into the creation of their novel, they usually only get peanuts in return for it by way of financial reward. Unless they’re JK Rowling. But then, for many of us, it’s not really the money we do it for. There are, after all, far easier ways to earn far vaster sums of money. Some legal, some not so. For me, it’s like an itch that appears and it doesn’t subside until I’ve given into it and extricated whatever it is that wants to be created through me.

And I have various itches at the topics that I feel are demanding to be written, paintings that are insistent on being painted (even though I haven’t got a clue what they are or how to create them), and of course a novel that has to be finished, because it really won’t give me any peace until it has been. I wonder whether other artists feel this ‘itch’, this restlessness under their skin that prompts them to create in order to satisfy that inner unrest. It’s not an unpleasant restlessness. In fact, it’s rather a nice one - and whenever I feel it I can sense that there are words that want to be expressed, or images that somehow want to tumble onto paper or screen. I’m feeling a heightened sense of this at the moment. If I had the energy I’m quite certain that I could spend all my waking hours simply creating and expressing what I feel wants - or maybe needs - to be expressed through this channel that is ‘me’.

It’s funny, I am the consummate creator, but I am a lousy salesman. I wish I could find someone else who could step in and take my work and sell it to the world. Because in order to live in this world, an income is somewhat necessary. I’ve always hated ‘selling myself’, I tend to get really shy and just want to slink into the background. I’m not usually shy at other times, but when it comes to my work - which is always quite personal to me as I invest a lot of ‘myself’ into it - I just want to hide. I remember when I was in primary school, the teachers often took an interest in my stories and the comics I made and would sometimes read them out to the entire class, while I sat there, covering my face in my hands just wanting to crawl under a rock. I don’t know why I felt like that, and why I still often feel like that. Funny.

I maybe need to get over this and blast it out of my psyche. I have the perfect means to do just that, as I will share in an upcoming blog. This inner excavation and balancing is necessary, I suppose, in order to get my novel out there. I invested too much energy and love into this project to just let it sit gathering dust. I believe it’s more than just an entertaining read, but something which might inspire people and the world so desperately needs inspiration. The publishing industry, music industry, TV and film industry - in fact all of the media industries - churn out so much lifeless, soulless, worthless trash which just continues to rot people’s minds.

As an artist, I want to free people’s minds and touch something deeper within them. I don’t need to be the best artist, the most eloquent writer or the most original innovator in order to do that. I just need to be authentic. Whether or not the money-grabbing industry out there is interested in what I have to offer is immaterial, no pun intended. I’m kind of beyond caring. But I do feel I should find an outlet to get my stuff out there, just on the off-chance that it might, in some small and perhaps seemingly insignificant way, lift people’s consciousness just a little.

I no longer crave success or recognition in the outer world. I no longer want or need to be a bestselling author and a recognised artist. Which is probably just as well, because I’m just not interested in what’s ‘in’ and what the current market trends are. I have an inner vision that I never deviate from, regardless of whether I think people will ‘like’ or ‘get’ what I do. I’d rather be an authentic, unadulterated artist who achieves very little success or recognition, than a massive superstar who’s a household name but creates utterly dead, generic, pointless work that’s crassly orchestrated for maximum sales potential. (Not to say that all the big names do that - that would be a terrible and untrue generalisation. But I do see it happening a lot, in every art form).

So for now, I’ll stick to writing my strange, cosmic fantasies, painting weird formless abstracts that probably break every rule in the book and would make critics shudder, and writing blogs that the majority of people would think are but meaningless jibberish. Oh, and my newly-composed ambient music, which I actually rather love listening to, even if no one else ever will.

Around about the time I hit the big ‘three-oh’ (OH!), something funny began to happen within me. I stopped being so utterly dependent upon the favourable opinion of others and largely ceased caring whether or not I measured up to what ‘the world’ thought I ought to be. I’ve gradually come to realise that we all have the choice. We can live after ‘the world’s’ opinion of who and what we should be, or we can simply be authentic to who and what we actually are. Option one might bring us a tacit pat on the back for our conformity and for holding up the status quo, but ultimately living after second-hand opinion leaves us deadened and hollowed-out husks.

It’s dangerous trying to be true to other people, because very often they know absolutely squat. We can only be true to ourselves and follow the rhythm of our own hearts and the pulse of life as it flows through us. That’s the only way to achieve a genuine and lasting peace in life. I’m very grateful that I came to realise that while I’m relatively young, because it’s something a lot of people don’t catch onto until very very late in the game of life...if they do at all. No matter what happens in life, don't let yourself come to the realisation that the title character of Tolstoy's 'The Death of Ivan Ilyich' comes to on his death-bed: "what if my entire life has been wrong?"

So, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is simply to be authentic. A life lived with authenticity can never be wrong. It might take a considerable mustering of courage to actualise that simple directive, but so be it! It is energy well-spent. I believe that everyone is an artist, whether they’re creatively inclined or not. The canvas is our life itself, and we each get to choose what we’re going to paint on it. If you’re going to be an artist - then BE an artist. An authentic, free artist, who doesn’t care about markets, trends and what the world might think. ‘The world’ knows nothing. ‘The world’ is just a term for the collective human psyche - and just look at how dysfunctional that is! Forget about that, and be an unhinged, crazy, daring artist! Art is not about money, fame and recognition - and neither is life. It’s about simply being true to one’s inner vision, one’s inner truth and daring to bring that vision to life for all to see.

I'm closing with one of my favourite quotations of all time, by Nikos Kazantzakis:

"You have your brush. You have your colours. You paint paradise, then in you go."