I don't think it is a bad thing to look at something you have written, realize that you actually like it, then, Play It Again, uh...Dan? For me, it is usually a pleasant surprise to re-read something I wrote a couple years ago find it still has merit, because I write So. Much. Stuff. and a lot of it is brain dump, which, as a rule, is usually crap.
Sometimes, though, you hit upon something decent. And then you completely forget about it and don't know that it's hiding in the archive, getting dusty, until someone does the unthinkable and asks you about it and you react like this:
And then you post it again and we have the bloggy equivalent of the Live Album which half of the people like, and the other half is pissed because there is Nothing New going on, to which I can only say "At least three times a week for the last 5 f*cking years in a row--you know what that means, don't you? It means I write more than I have sex. So shut up."
Anyway...From September 2008:
I didn't always think of writing as a means of casual communication, but rather, relief from intense social frustration: It is a far less frightening way to talk. The medium itself, for the most part, doesn't really include dialogue in the traditional sense, where people are talking over you and you're debating and eventually, they might change your mind. You write the whole damn thing and present it. There you go--"This is how I feel..." and let them answer all they want--you've said your peace.
I have found that I am an extremely mutable person--that I just go along with whatever, even when I hate it or it feels wrong to me, just because I don't want to make waves, or disappoint or anger anyone. Basic doormat behavior. Strange how I'm not at all like that on a page--When I'm writing, I've got seven million ways to say, "You are a complete idiot, you need to stay the hell away from me, and hopefully you will die soon, to spare the rest of the world from your dangerous stupidity..." but, I'd probably never say that to you in person, even if you richly deserved it.
I want very much to believe that people have good intentions, but the reality is that most people who are trying to get you to change your mind are thinking only of their own comfort, or, they are acting upon some societal norm--its not their fault. Many people are this way, and it is I who am the "weirdo" in this situation--not to worry, I'll be uncomfortable enough for the both of us.
The Weirdo personality quirk that has caused a lot of problems for me. For example, I ended up getting married a couple of times... :-) Sitting in front of this computer right now, I will tell you that I never should have done it, that I don't like being married, that I can't handle it, that I don't have to strength for that kind of arrangement, that being married just about killed my entire spirit (both times), that I don't especially like living with other people, anyway, and that I'm much, much happier left to my own devices and not not living in some kind of "have to" world.
Why have I come to this realization? For starters, I can't even count how often I was up at 2 in the morning, happily working on some project, and my mate d'jour stumbled out of the bedroom, questioning why I wasn't snuggled in bed with him. Strangely, "Because I'm painting/writing/working..." never seemed to cut it as an answer. Neither did, "I'm afraid if I don't act upon this inspiration right now, it will be lost forever." I mean...not wildly logical, is it? Don't you have to work in the morning?
Everyone assumed that I if I didn't want to hang out with them at "bed time", that I didn't love them, so often I would bow to their pressure for the sake of keeping them happy. Consequently, I found that the things I cared about--my personal expression chief among them--suffered dramatically.
While it is true this was a consequence that I brought upon myself by constantly acquiescing to people who had no artistic leanings of any kind, and I probably should have known better than to hang out with that kind of person in the first place, the lesson escaped me for a very long time. Finally, it is hitting home.
Luckily, I'm still young and fabulous.
Also lucky? The desire to create never really leaves a person. It takes an awful lot to beat it out of you.
Of course, there is little money in artistry, save for a select few people, and you do have to support yourself in some way that may have nothing to do with purely creative endeavors, but, I think that is OK, as long as you recognize and honor your creative self, and also, make sure that the people you choose to hang out with honor it as well.
And, that they do it from the safe distance of their own houses...
...and I mean that in the nicest possible way.
I was reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee this morning, and she talked about artists, and the art industry. It occurred to me that it is really a strange affair to a lot of people--they don't "get" it on the action level. They can't relate to sitting down and writing, and doing that enough times where you eventually end up with a book. Or putting any kind of effort into anything of that nature, with no guarantee of a return on your investment of time or resources. Most art is done on spec. Yet, art is everywhere around them, every minute of the day: They listen to the radio, they watch television, they walk past a sculpture on their way into their office, they read, etc. Somebody had to take that leap of faith and write that freaking song...it didn't just appear out of thin air.
Well, actually, it DID just appear out of thin air...and someone with the ability to see it and recognize it for what it was, had the inclination to write it down. That is what art is. Ideas appear, and artists interpret them for you in a medium that you can understand--photograph, book, TV show, symphonic movement...whatever. I often hear people who are not artists claim that artists are selfish, but I am here today to tell you that those people are dead wrong. Imagine a world in which no one had ever bothered to share an observation, and you'll see what I mean. They are the complete opposite of selfish.
Art cannot happen unless the artist is actually given the freedom to do it--and I do want to stress that I am not talking about money or grants here, but a more precious currency:
Michelangelo painted four years on a little project known as the Sistine Chapel, with no guarantee of payment, since the man who hired him was often off to war, and at one point was actually lying on his death bed, being administered the last rites of the church. Somehow, though, the planets lined up and the work was presented to the world as we see it now, one of the greatest achievements not just in the art industry, but in any industry.
And...what have you done for mankind lately?
I still write people notes instead of talk to them if it's something that I consider important. I just don't trust myself not to say something stupid, even after all this time. Words are very powerful to me, especially in times when I feel powerless, and with so many things that can go wrong, I dare not leave some things to chance. I am happy to be a writer, happy that I can do it, and happy that it can make a difference in somebodys life, in some way. Not to mention the fact that it is cheaper than therapy...