Living each day much muchier
If I asked whether you thought I could write a successful novel, I bet most of you would say yes. Believe in yourself. Put in the hard work. Train your talent. Pursue your dream.
Now I find myself asking, is it? Is it my dream? Or is it prepackaged idea I’m attached to?
This uncertainty started as a sickly feeling about ‘writers as products’, in the sense that we are all somehow becoming the product these days. I feel uncomfortable identifying as a writer in the modern world. There are online challenges, courses, articles, festivals, and endless scrolling advertisements for writerly paraphernalia. We are sold the dream in the most literal sense. We spend so much money and energy trying to feel like writers, when most of us could just get on with being one, for free.
Novels, or at least published works, are held up as the pinnacle of what it means to be a writer.
I’d like us to stop defining artists by their end product and maybe stop to think before measuring them against a statistically unlikely dream.
Yes, painters paint and writers write, but this is a joyful output of human expression. It has no more reason for its existence than the desire of the artist to manifest something from their soul into the world.
Art is the thing that burns inside us. We need to get it out. Our artistry is the form we find ourselves drawn to when we need to release that fire, to set the page alight, or the canvas, or dance floor, or camera or whatever the medium is.
If you don’t feel that way about your art, then perhaps you’re doing what you think you should instead of expressing who you are. I can’t write this novel how it deserves to be written. I wrote a version, but it’s not right and it’s a chore to pick it up, dust it off and try yet again. There aren’t other novels vying for attention. I just don’t think I like writing novels.
When I think about that artists fire for me, it’s the geyser of churning insights that build and burn inside until I blurt them out in short form. I literally can’t help myself. I have to do it. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it, or understands it. It’s not about the saleable end product.
Not every writer is a novelist. Some of us just make art.