Thursday, January 10, 2013

In Which The Not-So-Young Artist Makes A Decision...

"I've stared at the Mountain, the Mountain has disappeared, the Mountain has reappeared, the Mountain has stared back at me, the Mountain has sat alongside me and the two of us have stared at a Duck together."
                                                                                                           --V.R. Gallaher

I apparently have a Flu™ -- one that has removed my appetite for all nourishment outside of white squares of Trident gum. I'd have much preferred an illness with a lot of sneezing and snotting, because at least that feels more friendly and familiar. Whereas what I'm dealing with now is like my body expelling all foodlike substances at a rather regular rate, without being a good economist and dragging more stuff in to balance things out.

A more esoteric type might classify this situation as a "purging" of some sort. I am in no mood for esotericism right at this moment. In fact, the spell-check on this Blogger cannot even recognize the word "esotericism" -- all it comes up with is "eroticism."

I've made a decision today to put all my resources -- financially, and timewise outside of my daily work duties -- into writing and publishing my own content.

That previous sentence there, in and of itself, pretty much equals nothing new, and certainly doesn't merit a "congratulations!" It isn't anything that a hundred or thousand or hundreds of thousands of other people are declaring these days, looking at the success of this Image comic or that, or "50 Shades of Grey," and grumbling: "that should be me! I can do this! All I need is a coconut, some wires, and a Kickstarter!"

And what ends up happening is a zillion self-pub/small-pub projects flooding the Internet, jabbing their little bony elbows against each other for just those couple of micro-seconds of face-time with potential readers.

But I have to do this anyway for myself. I have to write this stuff so it exists, and send it out its merry way to take its modest place in the Great Soup of Everything Else.

When I was in college, literally all I did was write. I had some zines, I published some stuff in this little journal or that. But mostly: I wrote. I wrote simply as an act of existing, being in the Now and creating.

And then what happens is that you leave the rarefied bubble of academia, go into corporate life, and spend the next 15-20 years having it hammered in your head that what you did those 4 golden years of high creativity was naive at best, and has no connection in any way to the reality of the Entertainment Machine.

And that in itself is a kind of startling and soul-killing realization, but here comes the kicker: you are also told over and over again (most especially by yourself) that you might as well not even bother writing anymore. That simply the act of writing -- of pretending to be this presumptively talented creative entity for a few stolen hours a day -- is just a big laugh and waste of time.

And you see Crap™ elevated to godlike status, mass-produced to the point of infinity and de facto worshiped -- and Genius slaving away at minimum-wage jobs. You buy the brilliant self-pubbed comic book of some great, raw talent who drifts in and out of your life like smoke; you buy their book, you never hear about them again. Then you have Dreck™ shoved into your face 24/7; and you buy said Dreck™, just to know what is happening, or maybe you just get caught up in the hype. It's nice to feel a part of Something™.

Whereas with the wraithlike indie creator that popped into and out of your vision for that strange, magical moment...what's the most you can do with that? You can write a review or endorsement of some kind, I guess. You can buy an extra copy for a friend.

But you're just buying into that delusion,'re just playing it like you were 21 again and this shit actually was going to lead to something. Playing with your goddamn Xerox machine, making wasn't even your fucking Xerox machine! When you should have been smart, out courting this or that Connection™. Instead of that, you were essentially engaged in mental masturbation, writing about fucking cracks on your wall.

How many of us have given these hopeful new talents our own version of the "you'll shoot your eye out" speech, as it relates to being this idealistic artist and shit? How many have done it? Aren't we wizened and clever!

How many years, weeks, and days do a any of us have left on this planet? Seriously, take out your Dayplanner, and figure this shit out. Give yourself a reasonable estimate on how many Good Weeks you have left, given your age and overall health. Now subtract Possible World Catastrophe and Possible Sudden Accidental Death and Possible Onset Of Chronic-to-Fatal Illness from that total.

You see what I mean?

I just don't think at the very End -- that last time you cross "GO" on the board -- that what you didn't do, because you didn't want to be regarded as this idealistic vulnerable dweeb, is going to make a bit of difference. What's going to matter is what you did -- what you actually wrote or drew, published or not, regardless if it's mass-produced up the ass or confined to 15 limited edition hand-printed copies. Some more points added for creating from the Heart.

That's it. Then you can drift to whatever heaven/DMT-induced momentary Afterlife that is waiting for you, knowing that you have no regrets. Knowing that in The Great Big Balance Sheet of existence, you put some extra scratch-marks in the Goodness/Creation/Evolution/Health column; rather than adding more shit (I mean actual Shit) to the other column, making it harder for other people, closing minds and trapping their attention within prefab memes and cynical idea-viruses.

So that's what's currently on my mind now. You can blame the Flu™ for this ramble, if you want. I'm taking all the comps of my own work, which fills up about 1/2 a shelf in my office, and I'm selling the whole goddamn thing (minus one "file copy" natch). I'm putting every full book I've ever written on Amazon/iBooks/Nook, etc., starting no later than the beginning of February. And when all that material has been exhausted and placed in The Great Soup, I'm going to write every other damn thing I wanted to do, as long as I'm able to do it.

Maybe some will be comic books; maybe they won't. Maybe I'll try to draw them myself. Maybe I'll use little clay figures and take photos. Maybe I'll read it all into little podcasted bits, suitable for a casual listening at the gym or whilst doing dishes. But at least I'll be creating something.

And that's it. And I don't need to hear the "you'll shoot your eye out" speech anymore. I've heard it a fucking hundred times already, from those I respected and those who were just complete idiots from the word "Go." I've stared down the barrel of this "you'll shoot your eye out, you shouldn't even risk such a life-goal" so many times that it's become this Zen experience; I've stared at the Mountain, the Mountain has disappeared, the Mountain has reappeared, the Mountain has stared back at me, the Mountain has sat alongside me and the two of us have stared at a Duck together.

I've seen and heard it all. Time to share.