Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Too Much Ordinary

I spent some time tonight discussing the question of artistic purity with Tim. Whether the guitar players and writers who make a living that is at least related to their craft are more committed and less corrupted than those of us who don't. Well, I tried to make it living on the dole in my dad's house (rent free), and I failed. I spent most of my time lying in my room watching clouds pass over the rooves across the street, or hanging out in coffee shops in Wellingborough having fantasies about the waitresses.

I would still prefer not to work. Not at what I do now, anyway. But a writer is a writer if he writes. The issue is whether or not you are able to maintain your independent mind, your sense of yourself as a creative person. Which is hard when you have to become some grinning corporate cardboard cut-out, assuming (to get your wage), values you don't have or are actually violently opposed to. But if you can do it, if you can preserve your mind, it doesn't matter how you put the bread on your table.

"A man has the right to be as large as he feels he has it in him to be." Ken Kesey said that, or words to that effect, when he was arrested. A writer must be a large man (or woman), if he is to be a good writer. And the company of too many ordinary (read: mainstream) folk tends to reduce your size. But what about the company of ten guitar players who know about nothing except weed and guitar chords? How come one guitar player out of a hundred achieves something remarkable if the company he keeps is as much of a motivator as it seems to the man dragged down by too much ordinary?


Bobby said...

I sure have been wondering about this stuff. The people who do their thing full time - they get to devote all of their waking hours to thinking about their writing or their music. Working stiff/weekend warrior poets have to spend 9-5 thinking about widgets. I try to keep my jobs as mindless as possible while still maintaining a living wage - which is a struggle. Mindlessly keying in data all day works for me - usually.

And being in the real world with real people gives you subject matter to write about, you know?

It's just, with me, I am so tired when I get home from the stupid job. And you see how I'm only able to catch up on weekends lately... I feel like I'm wasting my life away.

It's hard.

I went back and forth to between my folks' house and party houses - you know - drinkin, smokin, faking at studying... my life was pretty foggy back then.

You just hope you write something that really impresses somebody important, and maybe you get a bit of momentum... maybe you get a grant or somethin. ... that's how naive I am, huh?

Bruce Hodder said...

Yeah, it's very frustrating to have to give away the best hours of the day to something that holds no interest for you when you've got this other thing you NEED to be doing. I get so tired after a late shift sometimes all I can do is crawl into bed, though I try to do something here or in my private journal to refocus my mind. I don't know about you, but I always thought life was meant to be more romantic, more heroic, than this.

But like you say, things come out that wouldn't come out if you weren't having the experiences you're having. All you have to (it's a big ask) is stay clear in your own mind, not get sucked into the world you're having to walk in, keep a bit of an objective distance and maintain your sense of yourself as a poet/writer. Try to beat the tiredness somehow. Or maybe even use it, like in karate! A bit of luck--or deserved acceptance--will come eventually if you're good. And you are, B. More people make a beeline for "Skullbolt" when they turn on their PC than head for "Suffolk Punch"...