There are those things that bring people together. It’s like being a writer and knowing someone who writes, and you can sit down and talk about starting over with something that has been going on for a while, and if you’ve written you realize there are those times. The first draft wasn’t really the first draft after all, but a blind alley showing where you were not supposed to go, and that’s cool, really, it’s okay to know that, because that means you know more about where you were headed. I cannot imagine how writing was done before computers and people actually had to pay for each piece of paper they rejected after typing it out. Worse, just hand writing what I you’ve read so far would have taken me a week, no, really, writing by hand is nearly impossible for me. Tolkien wrote the Lord Of The Rings longhand, then went back and typed it out. That is so freaking awesome, really, can you imagine if he had died in the middle of typing it out, and someone coming in behind him and trying to type it while reading it? It would be mind blowing to realize what you were doing as you did it. Yes, I suppose you could have read it first, and thanks for ruining that for everyone now.
My first brush with art as a form of mental illness was with Kathy Lucas, who was a painter. She created this incredible painting, a huge thing really, and it was wondrous. It was a painting of a child looking into the glass window of a candy store, and the kid’s reflection was in the window, and all the jars with their multicolored content, and you know, I would have paid for that painting. Kathy destroyed it one night, with a razor knife, and sat among the ruins of what she had done and cried like a baby.
I thought she was insane, and I realize she likely was but for none of the reasons I thought. When you create something it has to be what you want it to be, not what someone else likes. It has to say what you want it to say. It has to be who you want it to be. It has to be what it is and nothing else at all, or it is nothing at all. You are either doing it right or you are doing it wrong, and there is no one out there who can help you in that moment that you suspect the end has come for the path you’ve taken.
The dead end of an artistic idea is not the dead end of your talent. When you get to the point of despair, and you’ve written something well, and it flows, and you like it, but it doesn’t lead where you wanted, or it doesn’t say what you want it to say, or it doesn’t feel right, it’s like the first time you sleep with someone after you realize it’s over. You know that person very well, you know what they like, they know what you like, but when you should be thinking about what you’re doing you’re wondering if they feel it too, and you wonder if they are doing the same thing you’re doing, and you suddenly have this odd feeling that it really is over if you feel this way, and even if the sex is still good, or even if the sex is still great, you realize it’s like an exciting scene in a novel you can’t write that part into what you’re writing right now.
Your love affair with that person may be over, and hopefully it won’t end with a razor knife being brought into the conversation, but that isn’t the end of love itself, and it isn’t the end of who you are, and it doesn’t mean you’re tragically flawed, unless you’re an artist, and then you’re tragically flawed anyway, but that has nothing to do with who you were just sleeping with before you went to bed one night and realized they were not going to be there again.
The last relationship I was in convinced me I cannot ever date anyone and be serious about the future with that person unless they are an artist of some sort, and that is going to cause me problems. Generally speaking, someone I date has to be a little more sane that I am, or a little less crazy, and artists as a class of people generally are not all that sane, and sometimes it is a lot worse than other times. She didn’t see my writing as being something that was important. There were other things more important than writing, and there would be time to write later, and why on earth would I get out of bed in the middle of the night to write, and what the hell was I doing anyway? I mean, who in the hell just writes as some sort of hobby or something?
Kathy Lucas and I never got along very well, and I regret that because she was a seriously good artist, and she was a kindly person, sometimes. I was mad at her for destroying the painting for a long time. One night I almost shot her, and that’s a very long story, but I always wondered what happened to her, and if she went on to marry the guy she was in love with at the time, or if she found happiness somewhere else. But I understand now why she did what she did, and I understand why she had to do it the way she did it, and why giving me the painting wouldn’t have been right. I remember she had dark hair, and incredible green eyes, and I can remember the last time I saw her, I asked her if I could have one of her paintings, and she said yes, but she left before I could pick it up.
But I will always remember that painting, Kathy, and I will never forget the lesson of losing it.