Sunday, August 16, 2009

you're a what?

Yes, the great artist, and by this I mean the poet as well as the painter
and the sculptor, finds even in suffering, in the death of loved ones, in the
treachery of friends, something which fills him with a voluptuous though tragic
admiration. At times his own heart is on the rack, yet stronger than his
pain is his own bitter joy which he experiences in understanding and giving
expression to that pain.

Auguste Rodin

I'm wrestling with a crapload of artist's anxiety lately.

I am ridiculous for wanting a life as an artist: a life where I make Art, Capital-A Art, as life. I am ridiculous for wanting a life where I can write about that which confuses and frustrates and arouses me, where I can write about my anger and my shame and my joy, and I am ridiculous for hoping the challenge and discovery I awake will be valued to such a degree that someone will pay me anything for it. I am ridiculous for wanting to pursue the relentless fear that I feel from being an artist, for having the mediocre jobs I must keep in order to afford the moments I snatch to jot these things down, to jot other things down, to try and string thoughts together to create cohesion and beauty and opposition and the icy poking finger of perhaps an alternative at someone's status quo. I should have gone to law school. Or majored in marketing.

I am ridiculous for wanting to make a life with my sweetheart, wherein he can do the quiet, esoteric artistic work, where he can have a process that is markedly different from my own, that I don't understand, but that he must pursue because without its pursuit, he will die. I am ridiculous for wantning the artist's life, a life that so often seems fraught with fear, uncertainty, self-doubt, poverty, inconsistency, rejection and compromise.

Writing has so rarely felt like it was not work. Not white collar work, but dirty work, sweaty, complicated, drops of blood on the paper, fuck-why-can't-i-think-of-the-word/image/object/gesture work? I often feel like I should be doing something else with my life, something that my family won't hint at being a waste of time, or won't ask when I'll be able to acheive the next thing that is maybe less creative and more practical. If I were doing something else with my life, somethng more tangible and left-brained, I could make enough money for my sweetheart to feel like he could create the way he needs to.

A quick tour around the Loyola Museum of Art this weekend, with Rodin and photography of Paris and Chicago. It stirs around the parts of me that make things, and the parts of me that resent the rest of my life for preventing me from making things. Now I have a man in my life--and have had for some time--who, despite his blessed creativity, and his ardent appreciation for my life and work as an artist, is at times a distraction, a prevention from the work. And I am the same: as much as I love and want to make possible his ability to make things, sometimes I am just another burden on his list, just another thing that keeps him from his journal, from his sketchpad, from the page.

I love the work. I love my partner.
I do not love the life of the artist.
I don't know if I would know what else to do with myself if I didn't create. My life would be infinitely harder if I'd gone to law school, or if I worked in journalism or PR.
But this life... I am stumbling and struggling and failing often at making this artist's life.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

Oh Jess, cut yourself some slack, homegirl! Don't you know that if you could do anything else with reasonable success then you would??!!

I know for a fact that I can't do anything except what I'm doing. Acting. Or (most days) trying to be an actor. The last 9 to 5 I had made me start smoking like a chimney. I spent most days trying to figure a way to not curse customers out or stab one of my co-workers! If I'd been working a 9 to 5 all these years, I'd be dead already. Or I'd be in the looney bin, or in jail.

Acting is the only thing I do with a sense of glad purpose. Its the only thing that wakes me up in the morning. My family drives me up the wall. I hate all people. White people. Black people. Old people. Children. Fat people. Skinny people. I have no boyfriend. I have no children. So all I have is a glorious love affair with my work. I fall asleep reading scripts. I wake up and begin warming up my voice. Its pointless for me to pretend that I would be useful in any other medium than in the theatre.

I do understand your frustration though. I hate acting sometimes too. But I hate acting in the way I hate sex - enough with the sweat and grinding already, and lets just skip to the orgasm!!