Tough Love For Artists

Try it, you’ll hate it. You’ll despise it the way runners who love running, hate running while they’re running. 

You’ll sit and feel a kind of restlessness that’s rarely plagued you at nights.

You will park yourself at a cafe table, determined, and then begin

to notice with urgency the table’s rickety leg- unstable.

You may wonder if your blood sugar levels are too low, or if you are losing your mind. The latter seems hauntingly more likely.

You will slowly become aware of your own fidgeting, your urge to escape. Notice it. Resist it. Resist the resistance.

You’ll breathe breathe breathe like you’ve learned to. You’ll sit. Like, aggressively sit. You are sitting more fiercely than anyone ever has before. They don’t tell you that this sitting thing is 90% of what it takes to be an artist. I am telling you now, this sitting thing is 90% of what it takes to be an artist.

You’ll realize that the only way to do this is to hold yourself hostage to the monster of creation. Picture in your mind Animal from The Muppets, and sell him your soul for the day. Tie yourself to its leash and let it drag you. Surrender. You’ll convince yourself you have no Ideas or Thoughts, that your time is not now and maybe not ever, that you’ve already reached your creative prime and now

all you can do is pray for a time when your fingers on the keyboard move like Beethoven’s, or at least your stenographer mother’s, and produce combinations of letters, that get likes and shares and synchronized heartbeats applauding in accord. And by “pray,” I mean complain. [No one wants to hear your complaints, babe.]

You’ll daydream of a Moment that bursts like a crackling stovetop tick-ticking into fire,

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when your Mind evolves into someone else’s and your Words weave themselves into a technicolor dreamcoat to envelop you, protect you, represent you, speak for you when you can’t find anything you care about but sleep and deadlines–

a Moment of emergence.

But they say the Revolution, the Revelation, will come kim’aa kim’aa, bit by bit. And if the Messianic generation is anything like the process of generating, if the Temple, too must be constructed, then,

in this you must believe.

In this arduous, word-by-cumbersome-word process. With every assertive pounding of the space bar, you remember you are moving forward, but each step weighs a ton. And you don’t even know where you’re heading. And that backspace key is ruthless as Judgment Day, taking no mercy on those adjectives that do not paint masterfully enough to make the cut. And this chair isn’t even comfortable. You can only twist and stretch and make your spine click cathartically so many times.

But, still you sit. You sit still. You sit, still.

Creativity is a monster indeed, an operatic voice to be exorcised. And it is only in this stillness…

you take a quiz to see if you have ADD, but lose patience a few questions in. The irony goes over your head.

Creativity, that monster, demands space to flail its arms, and silence to disrupt with its roars. It needs to whisper too loud, like an embarrassing friend you later regret bringing to the library. It needs to ramble on and on like your stoner friend who keeps catching himself on tangents, chanting like a mantra the refrain “wait, what was I talking about?” It needs patience. Because it will get to the point, the Monster promises. If you wait for him, if you listen…

But first, you must find yourself a chair.