“What’s it all for?” a comrade of mine and a regular reader of my rant blog was interviewing me last night in the midst of a chaotic nightspot filled with beautiful children at play. “I mean: Why are you doing it?”
When I started self-publishing my words on the first of this year, I had already been writing on a daily basis — for years. Years, my magnificent reading eyes! As a child, I was always the smallest creature in every classroom, quietly and perpetually jotting things down in my journals. Motha blamed it on my lack of siblings; but I think: I was just meant to write.
I am story collector, you see. In the fashion of my motha’s nomadic people, I’ve bounced all over the world, passing by tragedies — sometimes getting caught in them — then retelling those tales, to a human ear or to an empty page. Why else would I be granted a life that has made me a witness to dozens of world-changing events of the current and the last century? And if that weren’t enough: Why would I be given a hand of lacking a home — or a home country — or a family, or any other predictability, or insurance? (These are valid questions, my comrades, although I am no longer seeking an answer.)
Since my landing in LA-LA six years ago, writing became more of a regimented daily activity; and when this Russian says “daily,” she means, “every bloody day.”
(Well, to be more precise, she actually means:
“Fuck my birthdays, fuck your birthdays! Fuck national holidays and vacations! Life’s too short! Do something about it!” Which makes V — an intense lil’ cunt on a mission; but y’all already starting to pick-up on that, I suspect.)
But not until my good-hearted and boyish comrade’s interview last night had I actually formulated the objective of my rant blog:
“Well, I want to make a living at art,” I said; but judging by my comrade’s face, I quickly realized I was being all Russian-mysterious and overall too vague for his American ear. So, I elaborated. “If this thing takes off as a column or a paid blog, with a steady following — great! A book deal? Even better!”
My comrade was beginning to nod. Phew! At least, I was on the right track of being understood — an event of rarity in my daily life.
“So, you’re trying to make money?” he said.
The socialist in me got a bit uncomfortable with being simplified this way, so I had to grope for my own balls — just to remember I still had some:
“Well… Yes! I want to be a working artist. But I also revel in the act of DOING it. You know?”
He didn’t know. My boyish friend still looked as if I was breaking down the gist of quantum physics for him, but I found myself somewhat surprised at the sound of my objective: To do art — for the sake of doing it. Sounds romantic, doesn’t it?
Now, don’t get me wrong: I am fully fed-up with taking on endless, completely random and often hectic survival gigs. I’ve had it with the tedious, mind-numbing office jobs, and restaurant jobs; and Shiva knows: I’ve had enough of the self-abuse that comes from having to report to gigs where I’ll be lectured or patronized or, what’s worse, perpetually jammed into a box of a more convenient category by employers with bored or fearful mindsets. So, yes: I am ready to get paid for my art!
But what makes the grind of survival much more tolerable is that, in the very act of creating MY ART — it feels like the best life I could possibly ask for.
Last night’s conversation with my comrade got stuck with me for long enough to bring it home; and despite having had such a day — to call it day, I’ve kept myself awake by watching this tribute to Sidney Lumet:
Allow me to recap the words I wish I had the wisdom to pass on to my boyish comrade (but then, I think he’d already had plenty of my intensity by now):
Reporter Tim Weiner: “How do you want to be remembered?”
Sidney Lumet: “I don’t give a shit!”
TW: “But what about the work?”
SL: “It’ll make its own way. Nothing I can do about it any more. [But] I’d like somebody to take notice of that… That I wasn’t afraid.”
And here is my favorite part, my lovelies; the part that I am only now starting to get the balls to admit to myself. Because, as I have written this late morning to my lover (oh, but I do so like quoting myself!), who’s currently three time zones away from my heart: Life — is chaos. We try to slow it down by making sense of it, and sometimes by demanding justice (and that, more often than not, leaves us disappointed.) The better route to commemorate a life or a person — is, but of course, with love. We, artists, do it by commemorating completely random happenings of beauty; and it does take courage and fearlessness to commit a lifetime to doing it. And thusly, we live:
SL: “I don’t think art changes anything. I do it because I like it — and it’s a wonderful way to spend your life.”
Does that answer your question, my young-hearted comrade? Oh, and look at that: You’ve just been commemorated. Yourr velkom.
Take it away, Comrade Kanyeezy!