This is a post about creating, gratification – and be warned, if you are sensitive – I try to be as sincere about it as I can – and it might sound a little manic and narcissistic.
Mania and narcissism are dangerous – we might form little narratives in our heads that make things very unclear. We start hallucinating about our importance, about what other people think of us – that kind of stuff; and I’m not immune to such illusions, either, occasionally – sometimes when we get a good looking offer, we might think we get it because there must be something special about us – why me, why this blessing? But to a bystander it might be very clear that there was nothing special about it – or that the offer has some hidden clauses within it – and the manic/narcissistic self-infatuated artist might be completely blind to it, because he or she is busy imagining they are being loved and adored.
I have had illusions about myself before, and I probably still have some – some overly positive, others overly negative – and part of my trek within the last couple of years have been attempts to clear my head – to see where I have been bullshitting myself, and to quickly detect when someone else is bullshitting me.
We could try to argue that to an artist, such illusions might be necessary – the mania, the narcissism – if they didn’t have it, would they ever create anything? I’ll get to that, later.
I get fairly enthusiastic about my little art projects – when it was music, on most days – it was what I was mostly thinking about; before this I used to draw a lot – and I used to write a lot – and even though I sort of did put it out, too – albeit only to a few people (among my 3 readers was my language teacher, my back-then best-friend (lives grew apart), and an actual old dude who was an accomplished writer – the opinion of the latter carried the most weight – he had said he was impressed by the volume (100+ pages of A4s), but otherwise it was too naive. The language teacher didn’t say anything discouraging neither encouraging, and well, the friend had her favorite characters and was rooting for them.
I never stopped writing, but for a long while I haven’t showed any of it to anyone – I got into making music – and since creating and releasing a 3 minutes song is a fairly shorter process than that of a whole book long of a story – getting immediate feedback from the friends and strangers (mostly people who were also doing music, mostly on the same level, if I may put it like this – meaning not virtuosos or accomplished composers, but just some young people writing music with computer programs) – it made me feel… Well, to be honest, today I think it didn’t make me feel, but it gave me an illusion that people cared about it.
Even now when I sometimes run into people whom I haven’t seen in years, in most cases the small-talk ends up asking whether I still do music? When this happened for the first time, I took it as a sign that wow, someone’s interested… But to be honest – if they were interested, they’d know – no, I’m not longer actively doing any music. They’d ask these questions but hardly anyone really listened.
And I’m not being bitter about it – I don’t mind. I’m not interested in any random guy grilling beats on their mac either – or as a matter of fact, I’m not interested in what 99.99% of musicians do, good or bad. Now, one could assume I’m indeed being bitter finding out that I’m not that important or interesting, trying to find justifications to prove myself otherwise – but look, that’s not so interesting to me, either. But is the belief that there is nothing particularly special about me, or that I have no talent, fair and true, either? Believing the opposite to what the manic-me would be thinking of myself – that I’m a loser, a dreamer and a useless piece of shit (and it does cross my mind, occasionally (that’s normal moods, nothing pathological – merely inconvenient and uncomfortable, a little painful if marinated for longer periods of time)); (which leads me to think bi-polar people don’t have a problem with mood-swings, but their problems exist because of impulsivity – both in manic and depressive periods – but boy, that is a completely different topic – and I’m not qualified to contemplate);
I’m currently going through some course thing on creativity on 42courses (their courses are pretty good – but I might be biased, because I’ve payed for it) – and it’s nice, it showcases many award-winning advertisements, it’s quite educational, but one of the videos I’ve seen today was where Elton John was playing a piano, on Christmas. The film kept going back in time, showing him years before, playing it somewhere else, again, and again – until he was a very little boy, waking up at a Christmas morning, going to the living room where his family presented to him the piano (in gift wrapping and all) – the film ended with a slogan, “some gifts are more than just a gift”.
In his case you’ll know the piano wasn’t just an instrument that he learned to play – but it became a part of his identity, it shaped the rest of his life. It wasn’t just a material thing, a toy, a piece of furniture – not just a new thing that would spark curiosity and hormones of novelty until the honeymoon is over – as it would be with many toys and gadgets and tools – but this was also an encouragement. And what a powerful encouragement a very personal gift like that can be – you gift an instrument to someone who spends time writing music – you make him or her feel or think that they’ve been seen and acknowledged. That’s sort of how I felt when the writer-guy read my stuff – I never saw his feedback as negative, I saw it as pure gold – it was not hard to admit I had written a lot of naive stuff into it. It encouraged me to try again later. And that’s how I felt when I was gifted musical instruments in the past – although I wasn’t much of a virtuoso, I preferred to write, and then have others play XD – but what I made of such gifts back then is a little different to what I dare to make of the gifts and opportunities I get today.
What music used to be for me – my daily focus, writing has become (when I get inspired, it’s around that, mostly – or random tweets that can’t be incorporated into the story). Of course, that time is shared with my daily work and some other things I’ve been curious about (there’s many books to read, courses to take – with each book I finish I find 5 more to dig into sometime, later – it’s endless! I need to figure out how to manage my time here!) – there’s much about design and marketing that keeps me curious, lately been looking into data science, and a gone through loads of materials about “writing” itself. And don’t even get me started on the whole Incerto and risk thing (I’ve received a gift – but I do not know what to make of it – I’ll absorb it to my best of ability anyway – or to my best of curiosity on the subject);
But the thing that excites me most of all – writing that particular story I’m working on – that I have been working on for a while. Bits and pieces of it even stretch back to the thing I handed to read to these 3 people 15 years ago; now – here is why I started writing this post – there is something weighing in on me hard. It’s nothing like with the music – where I could put out a 3 minute song, having completed it, right away – I actually didn’t even care much if it has imperfections in it – but it’s not the same with writing.
I’m going to get to the point that a creator doesn’t really need that narcissism or mania.
When I say to people I’m writing (and I don’t say it to 99.99999999% of people, because nobody really gives a shit about it) – I can’t even get the fake enthusiasm out of them that I could when I had been releasing music and doing concerts – because what I am writing is purely an abstraction to them, they are just ideas. Until they can put their hands on it – they’ll be seeing me as a hopeless dreamer – and even though no such thing is said – that’s what I think, or fear, is going on – I have hundreds of pages waiting for me to put them into a coherent, comprehensive form – until then all the hours, nay, all the years that I have put into this remain just an abstraction – an air castle, if you will.
And the fact that it weighs on me, weighs on me – it shouldn’t matter – but how come I am so hooked into fake acknowledgement anyway, pat-pat on the back, nice, you maek music, good for you. Why did I care about that kind of recognition? Maybe the fact that I am still working on that ridiculously long work, being well aware that 99.9999999999% will be absolutely disinterested in it anyway, suggests that I no longer do care about it – or maybe I never did, innately – I may have been doing this for it’s own sake anyway – but got completely sidetracked when a bit of attention started coming in – and considering my background – I was abnormally sensitive to attention and praise.
Still, somehow, having at least one person who promises they are looking forwards to it – whether they mean it or not – makes me more excited to work on it.
There’s something powerful about shared excitement – it does more than doubles the energy compared to having just one person (in such case, the creator herself), excited about it. We don’t really care to create just for ourselves, just for it’s own sake – I think – we care to create so we can share – and all it takes is one person.
Anyway, what a mess! Arts is NUTZ!