Happy New Year everyone.
So it’s like this, I got this temporary gig working over at the Walt Disney Company, which will be coming to an end later this week. It’s been quite a remarkable experience all around and I am particularly pleased to have learned that more than half of the staffers, at least in the New York division where I have been employed, have their own projects going on in the arts – some are acting in independent films and webisodes, others are writing their own short stories, novels, plays and music, and another individual has directed plays and is trying to get into the voice-over business (specifically for video games). Last week I got myself into a discussion with the latter, and a young woman who writes short stories. He had asked her why she writes, where she’s submitting her stories and she replied that she wrote only for herself with no intention of allowing anyone else to read her work. He was taken aback and didn’t quite understand this.
“Why would you write if you’re not interested in a career in writing?” he asked, “in anyone reading what you’ve written?” To which, I replied in her defense that “creation should never be done strictly because there’s potential for financial gain, because then the artist and the work becomes disingenuous.” But no matter how I put it, this concept didn’t seem to stick with him. He had been brainwashed, so to speak, by his teachers, by his parents and by the world around him, to the point where he could not see past taking any action without the forethought of what he might stand to receive from that action. I’ve met many like him before, especially in the film festival circuit – where so few do it because they burn to do it. The young writer held her ground and seemed passive of his strong reaction. It’s remarkable to me that this woman, who I suspect to be a bit younger than he, seemed to get it straight out and disagreed through and through with his opinion that “nothing should be created without reward.” But rewards for all artists and storytellers are too few and far between to be a required outcome – and if this were the reality of all of us in the arts, then no art would exist, the written word would not exist and we’d be living in an incredibly boring, insincere society.
When you create, do you ask yourself first, “what will it mean” and when you’ve finished your work, will you have asked yourself, “what did it mean?” Do you have the answer? Do you want the answer? Is the answer only relevant to you, or will other people find usefulness in the answer or at the very least, the pursuit of the answer? If you’re like me and find yourself in discussions with people like the individual above, then this is a wonderful way to get them thinking on a more human level, about the work they do and the time they spend creating. In writing this first article of the new year, I wonder whether we’ve managed to get through to him.
“I love to write, but I write just for my own pleasure. There is a marvelous peace in not publishing.” -JD Salinger
“Those who are best at poetry are those who have to write it and will continue to write it no matter the result. For, if they don’t, something else will happen: murder, suicide, madness, (god) knows what. The act of writing the Word down is the act of miracle, the saving grace, the luck, the music, the going-on. It clears the space, it defines the crap, it saves your ass and some other people’s asses along with it. If fame somehow comes through all this, you must ignore it, you must continue to write as if the next line were your first line.” – Charles Bukowski / Playing & Being the Poet from his compilation book: Absence of the Hero ISBN 978-0-87286-531-0