It’s been an odd few weeks here. I’ve been going through a level of artistic crisis that I haven’t experienced for a couple of years; second-guessing my muse, dropping into a trough of low self-belief, feeling every moment of isolation and being ignored.
By all reports, my live solo acoustic shows are sounding better than ever; yet, over the summer, attendance has dwindled until I am playing to a handful of people – all of whom tell me they really like what I’m doing
[thank you for hearing me, you have my love]
And then, this past weekend, I tried an experiment at a local music festival, selling my books at a stall. Now, it has to be said that the weather was against us from the start
[tornado warnings will do that]
but on balance the experience was kind of deflating – the vast majority of people who passed by either didn’t even look in the stall’s direction, or did, saw it was books and turned away without even approaching. Of course, some did come up, and I had some lovely conversations about my books, my writing, the art and muse. And, yes, I sold some books.
[thank you for reading, you have my love]
And, yes, I got told I was amazing, and it was really, really cool that I’d written all these books.
These small moments feel amazing, though with the heavy state of my head, heart and soul, they are but blips on radar, surrounded by a dark, dark sea of ‘blah’.
At one point on Sunday, I posted some of what I was feeling on Facebook and received some quite lovely reassurance, affirmation and care
[thank you for caring, you have my love]
and I also heard from several other artists that they were feeling the same way.
That got me wondering whether the current political climate, spreading fear and doom as a way of winning votes, may be feeding into my current state. Nearly every political discussion or ad
[ably supported by hyperbolically partisan media]
is positioning the choice ahead of America as one between “our guy, or the end of the world as we know it” and, regardless of personal leanings, the net result is that everyone is talking about the end of the world as if it’s a foregone conclusion.
So, here I am as an artist, trying to increase my chances of making a living from my art
while the cultural discussion reinforces that no-one’s safe and the end of the world is coming.
Of course, there’s a reality at play here too. I make my living consulting and things are fairly good for me there. My world isn’t coming to an end.
But I’m conscious that every discussion is underpinned by the climate of fear and doom. And it begins to wear me down.
Is wearing me down.
Art – in whatever medium – is an act of insurrection; of swimming against the flow. It is the conscious
drive to be abnormal, to step away from the herd and be isolated. It is a dive into risk.
It takes an effort of will to make art.
And when we get ground down by whichever negative energy is currently besieging us, we need to find alternative ways to source that energy. And right now, there is a lot of negative energy buzzing in this world.
All of which brings me to my learning, I guess.
If you love it and enjoy it, Vince, keep going. This too shall pass.