The Death of Me

Somewhere along the line, I came up with this mantra: The artist is never as good as the art and the art is never as good as the idea. I don’t know if I’m romanticizing or trivializing the act of creating art. It sounds more like the latter, doesn’t it? Maybe I’m just using it as an excuse not to familiarize myself with creators, and so I don’t get too mad at the wasted potential of a poorly-delivered story that stemmed from a great idea.

It’s also an excuse for myself. I think I come up with great ideas. No modesty. No humbleswag. I genuinely feel like I have some really cool concepts for stories, inventions, projects, art works, and more, bouncin in my noggin. Any one of them, delivered just right, and exposed to the right audience, could be The Next Big Thing. To the point where I frequently worry that I am going to ruin the idea by trying to actually create it myself. Nothing I’ve ever written or drawn or otherwise has come close to living up to what I wanted to do with it. I have put off writing stories because I think I’m not “ready” or “good enough” to write them. Stories I came up with!

So maybe that’s why I decided that the stories can’t possibly live up to the concept they spawned from. There has to be a point where you accept that the tangible world does not allow for a manifestation of fairyland imaginarium and just forge what you can with what the world offers. I’d never write anything if I kept trying to perfect it–there would always be something wrong. Stories are never finished, just abandoned, as they say.

As for the “artist” part, there are more excuses there. This comes from the concern that I’m not as interesting or intelligent or well-read as I should be for a writer. There’s this pipe dream that I won’t really matter when I publish my works because the creation should be judged on its own merits. The author is dead, reader! I am dead. I mean nothing. Of course, that’s not how most people think. In fact, to be successful these days, you have to bank on people becoming loyal to you, not just your work. So I might be out of luck in that dream of living in peaceful isolation at the top of a high rise loft in New York, writing bestsellers while everyone leaves me alone.

But it’s also an excuse for other authors. It’s to protect oneself from hero worship–the fear of discovering that Santa Claus is just a regular fella in a fake beard who spews homophobic slurs when he’s not writing your favourite sci fi novels. Or something. I mean, just because you love a painting doesn’t mean you have to love the painter–and just because you hate an author doesn’t mean you have to avoid his or her books. My bookshelf is littered with alcoholics, homophobes, suicide cases, womanizers, nerds, you name it. Doesn’t bother me one bit. The novels are still great.

The final excuse is my general inability to register names. Well, people in general. I’m very forgetful when it comes to other people. I can recognize a song but have no idea who sings it (I’ll forever cringe at the time I asked what band played the song on the jukebox–it was Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”). I can read a whole novel and forget who the writer was (I told someone I’d never read Steinbeck even though I loved Of Mice and Men). But it doesn’t matter because the art is more important than the artist! The art!

The art.

– H.

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