Maybe you’re familiar with Franz Kafka’s short story, A Hunger Artist, maybe you’re not. It doesn’t really matter. One of the main themes of the story (the way I see it) is the fact that artists most often feel misunderstood by their audience. And they’re furious because of that.
That’s a myth.
Most often than not it’s the artist’s inability to show people what he wants to show them that gets in the way.
Simply put, the artist is to blame because people don’t see what he wants them to see.
That being said, I believe that this feeling is quite common in the world of art. Sometimes expectations are unusually high, and the outcome suffers because of that. Besides, any artistic medium can only express so much, especially when we are young and naive and have yet to acquire the right set of tools.
Ever since I can remember my dream has been to be able to write full time. That’s it. No worries, no petty frustrations, no nothing. Because in the rare moments that I can do that, in the rare moments in which I can write and blog and reply to comments and e-mails, I’m happy. Simple as that.
When all this breaks down, you tend to write in order to live, and not the other way around. Trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s not a nice place. Maybe it’s true that a rough sea makes skilled sailors, but it’s also true that rough seas claim a lot of lives.
I’ve been writing for more than ten years now, and only in the past two years have I managed to actually finish things. To get them edited, to release them. Yeah, when you’re angry and remorseful it’s easy to write stuff on a piece of paper and call it art. Disappointment, hatred, all of that makes it easy to create art.
Maybe it’s because only after you’ve lost everything that you are free to do the one thing you love most. Or maybe it’s so because we often find an escape in art.
Because only when you make art, do you feel truly free. No matter who you are, when you make art, you can become anyone you want. By sheer power of will you can imagine a different vision of the world, one you’d never be allowed to share or create otherwise.
I can never be young again, yet I can write from the point of view of a small child. Imagination is one of our most powerful tools. If we can imagine it, we can create it.
Imagine a white canvas, an empty page, an instrument lying on the floor. All of these give you a kind of freedom that doesn’t exist out there, in the big world outside of art. In the real world there are consequences and rules and, well, other people. In the world you create, you’re exactly as free as you want to be.
As a writer, anything I can imagine is real. I can write into existence anything my brain comes up with. Anything at all.
It comes a time when an artist feels that the only thing he truly owns in this world is the art he creates. Once you taste that feeling, there’s no going back, no pretending like you had other options. If the words you write late at night are the only thing that’s keeping you from doing something really stupid, then by all means, never give up, never surrender.
But now I stand to lose all that, now I stare at the darkest night I have seen in a long, long time.
That’s where Kafka’s hunger artist got it wrong. One’s audience does understand. They feel what he feels, and even if they don’t, they can relate. I know that oftentimes an e-mail or a comment kept me going when all I wanted was to quit. When someone tells you that they kept going because of something you wrote on a lonely night, you kind of feel a moral obligation to keep going.
But I need your help in order to keep going. Please don’t let this dream die, because I don’t know if I’ll be able to resurrect it.
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