Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Bought and Sold for Free
Lately not just a few readers have asked me if I'm ever going to post again. One dear soul even threatened self-injury (something to do with jumping out of a single-story home window) if I didn't post again soon. I thank you all for your support and your faithfulness to my blather.
I needed some time away from this space. Because it got away from me somehow. The reason for this space, I mean. When I started writing here, it was a selfish endeavor. It was my very "Horton Hears a Who" way of screaming out amidst the chaos my life had become, and a way of asserting that I didn't die along with John.
For some reason it worked, that selfish, self-indulgent slant. Those of you who read regularly seemed to identify with that voice - something that has never failed to astound me. Although I write (here in this space, at least) for others to read (I mean, duh... it's public), mostly why I write anything at all is because I need to get shit out. I need to cast off old, dusty garments. I need to sing like nobody is listening. I need to weep and laugh all at once until there's a snot-fest on my face and not care about who sees it.
And that got away from me.
I began to pay attention to stats, to who was "following" my blog. I worried if no one left a comment. I started writing with an eye toward what my readers would want to read. Ask any writer, that's the top wrong reason to write. I even went so far, on a few occasions, to go trolling amongst my readers for topic suggestions. I got greedy and I sold out.
Yeah, you can do that even when it's "for free."
Would Jackson Pollack have painted daisies in a vase just because someone told him that's what they wanted to see? Would Man Ray have contented himself with taking pictures of cute puppies just because others mentioned liking pictures of cute puppies? Would Hemingway have turned his pen to children's stories, or would Buddy Guy have strummed hymns without ever picking out a bluesy riff?
No real artist does what they do to satisfy others. They do it because... because shit needs to get out. Good shit and bad shit. For those of us who do creative stuff, there's a certain level of intensity to what we feel. And if that sounds snobby or selfish to those who haven't experienced it, I can't make any apologies. It's just what it is. Every gift comes with a dark twist.
Back in the day when buildings were heated by huge boilers (steam heat generators), they often had to be "dumped." Dumping meant opening a valve to let out the build-up of steam so that the boiler wouldn't rupture or erupt, thereby destroying anything in its path.
Writing, for me, is my way of dumping the boiler on my burbling mash of soul gunk. It keeps me even. So, yes, in that way it is a selfish venture. Selfish, yes, but there's no room for arrogance and ostentation. Humility, with respect to being gifted enough to create anything at all, is key.
So, I apologize. I am sorry that I lost the vision.
But I think I've got it back now.