Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Suffering for your art 

Today I'm frustrated.

The break-up happened long ago, although it really happened long before that.
It has been hard work. There are different stages and it's like you're island hopping, and from each island you strain to see the last and wonder if you were ever really there, and you strain to see the next and wonder if you will ever get there. And eventually you reach the mainland and you move on. Not because it's easy or desirable, but because the alternative, to let it own you, is just plain ludicrous.

It seems reasonable to expect something in return for all this hard work and effort. Me, I would like to write, and no writing of worth will come from robots. Robots will not tell stories of hearts singing or screaming; of feelings of ultimate power and potential and dreams of the future; and of loss when those dreams are taken away.

Surely you have to draw on your personal experiences, painful or joyous, if you are to remind your readers they are alive.

Without these experiences, I'm left with a string of uninteresting observations and bizarre exaggerated conclusions.

I'd be writing about a world where failure to clean up after your dog results in being shot by a sniper with a dart gun, pumping the owner full of quick-acting laxative - if you don't clean up after your dog, you'll be cleaning yourself up.

I'd be writing about a world where thousands of TV sports channels broadcast protracted build-ups to major football matches - some of them having started their coverage of the 'big game' decades ago. Presenters would be artificially bred to anchor just one pre-match commentary.

It’d be something like Orwell meets Kafka meets Jerry Seinfeld. Basically, a load of crap.

So maybe you can see why I haven’t quite been able to let go of everything, not just yet. Not until I've at least tried to create something of worth out of it. After all, it’s great source material. This sort of thing doesn't come along too often (thankfully), and I'd be crazy to ignore it.

I just haven't been able to write it down before. Well, I've written it down before, but that's just dumping everything on a page. I've not been able construct something useful from it; I just haven't been in the mood.
I've kept hold of a small part of it, I've picked at some small wounds that I should have left heal. Saving it all up from a time when I am ready.

Yes, I’m prolonging some of the suffering, but at least this suffering is going to be worth something.

It could be worse. If I were a real artist, I would jump at the chance of suffering for art. I’d lock myself in a room and shut out the world and go back and relive the whole thing.

Sod that, at the rate I work I’d have to drag the process out for years, and what a wonderful mess I’d be at the end of it.
There’s always the possibility you’d emerge brandishing some wonderful creation, but it’s more likely you’d waste years and come out with some drunken ramblings.

I’ll just draw on the ending then, with a few echoes from what came before. I’m not going to go back and try and remember what it was like and how I felt. I’m not going to do that to myself. For that I’ll have to wait until the next time it comes around; although I’m not sure where I’ll get the time to write about it while it’s happening. People in love have no time. Maybe in the past they would spend time apart and have time to contemplate their predicament. These days people in love spend all their time either gazing into each other’s eyes or visiting IKEA.

Back to the problem I wanted to talk about. Why I’m feeling frustrated.

The other day I was feeling suitable emotionally affected and suitably clear-headed at the same time, so I thought about writing.
Straight away I came up with a picture, a structure, some scenes; a vessel into which I could dribble my soul. I started to write and it started pouring out of me. I heard a voice on the page which I thought could be my voice. After an hour was very pleased with what I had written, but I was far from finished. I went to bed with my head full of ideas.

The next day I promised myself I’d return to the task in the evening. I’d been looking forward to it all day, but when I finally tried to set my mind to it, I struggled. I could barely write my own name. What had happened was that the previous evening’s writing exercise had helped me work through some of the outstanding process. I’d loosened my grip on what I had been holding on to and had stopped scratching the remaining wounds. I just couldn’t go back to the words I had written as my mind wasn’t in the same place.

So what am I to do now? I could go back to that last island and pick up where I left off. I could take myself back there if I really wanted to. But I really don’t want to.
I feel different now; lightened, clear-headed, logical with bouts of wild optimism. I really can’t face dragging myself back now that I know how I should be feeling.

Maybe I am destined just to write about trains and washing-up and stuff.

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