Friday, November 14, 2008

THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING A WRITER IN THE U.S.

I hate writing some days.

We’ve all heard the sentiment that one must suffer in order to create “art.” In all fairness to that particular doctrine, a lot of people suffer and never learn how to harness it into something creative. It’s not enough to merely suffer. One must also gain perspective. That is the quintessential “Dark Side” moment where we either learn from the master or rot away in a decaying frame of unfulfilled ambition and desire.

I went through the “What if I’m a fraud?” stage a few years ago and emerged virtually unscarred so it’s not that. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always secretly suspected it’s the one and only thing I can potentially do well.

I won’t take you on a tour of my Hall of Shame, but rest assured it has many, many exhibits. My writing isn’t on display there but some of my early stuff would qualify.

As I wrote a few months ago, I was at one point discouraged to the point of giving up. But I wonder if I ever would have been able to do that. Despite a nearly two-year bout of writer’s block, I still sat down from time to time and tried to summon an interesting story or line of dialogue.

Writing for me has always been the true love/other lover of my sub-conscious mind. It makes demands on my time and energy that most well adjusted human beings would not and, like a bad lover, it often leaves me feeling anxious and unsatisfied. But it’s even more than that.

That portion of my “struggle” seems to be over. I got bags of perspective, I tellz ya.
BAGS!

So what’s the deal? Why can’t it ever be simple with me? Most writers I know throw hissy fits when they can’t write anything they consider worthwhile. I’ve seen them go into a funk that would cause most people to shut down and withdraw from reality. But writers are always partially withdrawn from reality, so for us this is just a process or a means to and end.

But I suppose what I’ve always hated most is being surrounded by people who don’t get it. Constant criticism, dismissal or just plain insults are some of the tiny-minded responses to the writer’s mentality. Polite society loves to pretend it’s impressed with the skills but condemns you when it becomes obvious there is more to your talent than simple words on a page.

Stephen King once stated in his incredible “On Writing” that a true writer couldn’t be concerned with what polite society thinks. I don’t think I’m in any danger of that, as anyone who knows me or has read me can attest.

Ultimately, the writer, the poet, the painter is alone in a universe he or she is desperately trying to redefine or reveal. Sarah Palin’s beloved Joe Six-Packs, not to mention Biff the Stockbroker and Muffy the Soccer Mom, see no value in that, especially in the U.S. We are on our own. If we hit upon a popular formula or sell out and work in advertising, we might be considered relevant by the masses. Otherwise, we are marginalized, social pariahs. This isn’t Europe; very few people revere writers here. That type of environment can make for even better writing but it sure as hell doesn’t make for a happier life~

2 comments:

Priscilla said...

Don't sweat it man-do your thing-your perspective keeps readers coming back for more ;) people who understand writing and what its about will appreciate your work because you have a unique voice-and because you know how to put the right words together to convey your ideas in a unique way-and cause you are balls out funny :)

ca nadeau said...

LOL thanks priscilla, you have no idea how much I needed that.