“You must be miserable to be a good artist.” – At 17, I became a poet and I was my own grief. Mentor after mentor after mentor taught me that the lifeblood of my craft or the thing that would recondition the lapses in the fiction-I-strove-to-write was finding despair and willingly let it possess me.
Living with misery was like having a poltergeist constantly light your bed on fire. The pyromania – letting things burn, knowing that you are the cause of your own despair. It strove for perfection and it ate the details of my day, whispering, “Nobody loves you. You are hideous inside and out. Just kill yourself.” As opposed to, “Destroy everything you love. Your works will be a grand gesture. A testament to a love that once existed. Write about it. Destroy another person for they have destroyed you. Everyone will love you.” That is to say if the pieces were mostly confessional and not some sad sack of gibberish pretending to be difficult, edgy, and wrapped in compound adjectives.
And I didn’t let it posses me — misery. I could have; but what would I have achieved? More delusions of grandeur? Never. I was mindful of that. And honestly, I find all of it corny.
In my old philosophy classes people often spoke about needs, wants, and purpose – all of which are side notes to finding happiness. I guess, as humans, we’re all blissfully miserable. Even in love I found myself attracted to the idea of letting things burn. But, I asked myself every time, “Would it be worth it?”
Some days, when I have no work, I find myself aimlessly walking in Pacifica waiting for the perfect words to come. Words that I’d scribble down on pieces of paper. Just beautiful strings of words – phrases and run-on sentences – that wouldn’t really end up anywhere. Just words that might turn into bigger ideas … or nothing.
Whoever gave anyone the advice to seek out misery was a dumb-fuck. Great art doesn’t spring from destroying other things. It’s 2017 and movies like that are outdated and the authors that lived through it are dead. Good art is derived from skill and observation – good art or bad art is glorified when it’s put out there on Instagram, Behance, or somewhere on the internet.
“La mort de l’auteur” – to quote Roland Barthes and believe that “the author is dead” and will not have anything to do with the work. I have no use pondering over faux sophistication. I combat my own insecurities by reading a little and knowing when to murder things that have value to me … and when to write about it.
I don’t want to destroy things just because it will look interesting in my autobiography. I don’t want to write about a human muse and give them gratification in pointing out, “Yes, that’s me. I hurt her.” I am sadistic. I am hermetic. And everything I’ve ever written is a work of fiction — yes, lies, all lies.