“Worry destroys the ability to write.”Ernest Hemingway

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.

If you wish to help out, you can send any amount you see fit via PayPal to contact [at] cristianmihai [dot] net. Any amount matters. Any amount helps me immensely.

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6 thoughts on “Worry…

  1.  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.”

    I disagree with this thought. As an artist myself, there is yes, a hunger to be seen, but I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the artist to make “the audience” see what she is trying to convey.

    Once the art is finished, for myself, it’s out of my hands. How the viewer perceives the art, how they take it, or absorb it into themselves, is never how it felt to create it. And I believe that’s a good thing.

    I would bet you have experienced this as a writer. You write something and say, you show it to your best friend. For you, the piece is about longing, about stretching yourself to the limit to reach your dreams and goals and highest asperations, using only the tools you’ve been granted. But you read it out loud to her and she sees hope. Potential.

    Now, longing, hope and potential can all fit easily into a compelling essay. But you were longing and calling. And she, received the call and reflected hope back to you. It’s an interesting calling to be a writer or an artist, because it requires us to empty out our souls against whatever mediums present themselves to us.

    But…we only have a right to the work. A right to the action of emptying our souls. The rewards are not owed to us, according to Pressfield, in his book, “The War of Art”.

    That, the fact that we are not owed the reward, just the work is our reward, is what I think artists and creatives alike feel frustrated about when we are called upon to empty our souls on pages, online, or against the rough edges of raw canvas.

    It’s hard to do that. I can tell you know that, just by reading three of your blogs. And to have no financial guarantee, that’s even harder. Because all of us deserve to eat good things and to be able to pursue our passions to the good of the world.

    So I agree that artists and writers get frustrated. And frustrated with their audiences. But I don’t agree that it stems from audiences not understanding the work. It’s from a deeper level, the place where each of us strive to be seen and validated and given resources for what we bring to the world.

    Thanks for inspiring me think and respond.


  2. It´s very very difficult to survive as an artist and writer, if we are born poor or cut family ties, and also if we prefer to be independent in our art. And to get noticed, we got to be much better than any rich person who can afford to find more time and money for his creative process. It is imbedded in the system that artists in general are being left out of any welfare. Bryan Hemming and me have excepted this fate already. One thing we don´t loose: Our optimism. We know that our work has a purpose, and I always believe that one day we will be able to buy lamps for our rented flat and a bed with legs, and a better computer and better camera… And we are not the youngest anymore. Keep up your head! I wrote something similar before to you, but I couldn´t help writing this again..


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