Friday, September 22, 2006
Sunny and cool
I kept yesterday a fairly quiet day. I figured it started pretty well – after all, I wasn’t the one not breathing in the twisted heap of metal outside, right?
Grocery shopping with a few indulgences (Italian coffee, Scottish smoked salmon pate).
Talked to another friend well established in both theatre and film. We discussed how so many people romanticize our industry (because of the way it’s marketed) and how little it has to do with the reality. Hundreds of thousands of people fantasize about making a life in the arts. A very small fraction actually has the guts to give it a shot. An even smaller fraction has the work ethic to remain. Out of those who do, about 13% make a living at it, and only 1% could be considered successful. Yet, it is a calling, a need deep within the soul. There’s a difference between the human need to create and experience art – everyone has that – and choosing to make it your life’s work. It’s the commitment to the calling that makes a difference. It’s like entering the religious life – you’ve made a decision to leave behind what most people consider a “normal” life – even though “normal” lives are one of the biggest fantasies and fallacies there are. You have to make sacrifices. You can’t have it all. It’s about being part of something bigger than yourself, and also holding strong boundaries with non-artists who want you to bend to their agendas, in all walks of life. They can love you like crazy and still sabotage you. Do you have the courage and the commitment? And no one can answer that question for anyone else.
Theatre people (and, in modern life I also include film people, writers, artists, etc) have always been shunned by the general public. Even when they’re adored, there are many malicious souls to want them to fail. And those outside the art-centric life can’t understand why you can’t drop everything and go out to dinner, be interrupted for a “simple question”, why you miss holidays, can’t call in sick, etc., etc., to suit them. Centuries ago, Players were treated horribly. Why? Because, in a way, they’re “touched by the gods” which allows them to create and they have the courage to dedicate their lives to it. However, they are still human, and, because they’re so capable of understanding, exposing, and performing the flaws inherent in human nature, they often personify them. And people hate their gods to be flawed, much as they dance with glee at every failing. The most vindictive are those who have the fantasy of creation but not the courage to pursue it. They see someone else has conquered the fear and taken the consequences and therefore, the courageous artist must be punished. Because the punisher is, at heart, a true coward.
Unfortunately, most people who choose to live in a non-art-centric, nine to five soul sucking existence do so simply because they think they “should” and they are too afraid to risk going after their dreams and desires. And they resent those who do, and perform acts of violence on them, be they physical or psychological, to justify their own failures.
Actors can sometimes meld into the regular world for short periods of time. Writers, however, are always slightly “other”, slightly “otherworldly” because they’re living and observing simultaneously.
Which scares non-writers even more.
And quite a few writers stop writing because this “otherness” is scary and uncomfortable, and the reactions of those around them are even more so. Some can adapt. Others always feel alien in their own skin. And a few take the risk, face down their own fears and those around them, and commit to their creative selves.
Scientists, computer professionals, mechanics, bakers, pilots – anyone who is passionate about their craft is, in their own way, an artist. And faces some of the same dilemmas and obstacles. Especially if they put their callings above the selfish demands of “normal” society. But the artists tend to draw the most fire.
Not only do artists have to deal with their personal fears and insecurities, the rest of the world tries to foist of their own fears on artists and then blame them for the fears and their (the foisters’) cowardice.
Art requires the commitment of heart, soul, and craft.
Finished the next draft of “Ris An Abrar” at 6,512 words. This section can stand alone as a short story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is strong enough (once it goes through the revision process) to submit, and then, beyond that, I can continue with the piece and expand it to novel or novella length, whatever is required to serve the story. It’s taken some interesting twists and I’m pleased with it. Bits of it will make people a bit uncomfortable and disturbed, yet part of that is the point of the story.
Plotting out the next several Elle/Sean stories. These could get interesting, especially as they navigate finding out about each other along with their adventures.
Did some work on the outline for the suspense, battling with a series of truly lousy names. The least offensive seems like Assumptions of Right, which works on several levels of entendre, but that doesn’t sound like a very suspenseful title now, does it?