This one’s for the artists out there.
To the writers, the painters, songwriters, singers, musicians, actors, dancers, Bill Gates Impersonators, directors, animators. Sculptors, and the many, many other art forms that I haven’t listed here I ask you one question:
This is hard, isn’t it?
You’ve got this talent bursting out of you, wanting nothing more than to be shared. This uncontrollable energy to turn imagination into reality. A drive that cannot be replaced and if repressed, will still find a way to come brimming up to the surface. But despite that eternal flame, you may not have been able to reach a wide audience. Maybe your art just has an audience of one. If you’re in either boat, I say to you:
You’re supposed to be drifting.
When I was in 7th grade, my mom asked me if I knew what I wanted to do with my life. She knew that I had always loved writing and creating new stories and adventures. Yet when my mom posed the question, I remember saying, “I’m going to be a biologist or something. Writing is too hard. And impossible to break into.” My mom showed no disapproval, just a quiet acknowledgment of my decision. From that tiny conversation on, I stopped work on my novels, cartoon ideas and long form yugioh parodies (long story, trust me). Because I used to believe that if my art couldn’t become famous, it was useless to create.
Yep, 7th grade me was a buzzkill.
This is normally the part of the story where I tell you I had an epiphany that got me back into writing again. But that didn’t happen. In reality, I never actually quit. If you found me in the back of AP Bio, I was either asleep or scribbling out my latest story idea. Find me on the train and you’ll see me hastily writing a poem before my next stop. On a weekend you could easily catch me thumbing through old notebooks full of ideas. For me, I could still feel the flame, even if I refused to look at it. And it wasn’t until nearly 5 years later before I decided to lay by the fire and warm myself up.
I tell you this story today because I don’t want you to lose five years of creating art. Or even five minutes. In the world of the arts, it may seem like you’re stumbling through the darkness in a desperate attempt to try and find your place. Let the fire that has been so carefully cultivated within yourself light the way. I guarantee you, even if it’s only a few steps forward, your life will be that much better.
I also tell you this story now because I haven’t had big commercial success. I am not a NY Times bestseller or starring in the next Avengers movie. (IF ONLY!!!!). I’m just a guy that became so much happier by simply putting a pen and paper together and letting my crazy thoughts take charge. Maybe embracing your art will do the same for you. You might do a lot of yelling into empty space before anybody takes a chance to stop and listen. But I’ve heard that yelling is therapeutic.
This may all seem like liberal, new-age rambling. Although it would be appropriate, (they’re calling my generation the new hippies) that’s not what it’s meant to be. This is a milestone to look back on what has been a long journey to get here, and hopefully, a long journey forward. If you’re out there, and you’ve got a paintbrush, dj scratch table or kilne in your basement, maybe it’s time to put them all to use. Don’t think about where it will all end up. The journey, man. That’s what’s important. Oh no, I’m sounding like a hippie again. Okay, let’s close this up before I find a bandana.
I write my fiction to give the characters in my head a second home on the page.
I write to get people to stop and leave their troubles at the first word.
I write in hopes of eliminating the gap between these words and your eyes.
Every day, my writing gets me to stand up and yell into the void.
And it feels pretty damn good.