Fargo, North Dakota
I tainted a nothingness today. And for the first time in as far as I can remember, it was not with words but with lines and shapes and objects. I created art or, at the very least, the start of a new adventure -
I’ve been here before, at the first steps of a new passion feeling that wonderful combination of awe and frustration and fear and excitement and confusion, where I want to learn everything right now from ten thousand different sources and concepts and yet straining to understand the simplest of basics…
Overwhelmed is the best way I can describe my state of being right now. (and scared, confused ect...) I’ve stepped into a world where, until now, I’ve only glanced into. Even now, while writing this, I am leaving so much of what I want to say on the floor because I can’t even process everything my mind is going through all at once.
In time, this will all make more sense to me. Until then, I shall take refuge in the speech words Neil Gaiman spoke during his 2012 commencement speech, when in doubt... "make good art"
There is a calmness to purging your entire social media history. Friends/followers, all matter of contents, images and stories from the world. The flood, the plague…the purge.
In the grand vision of things I doubt it matters much, remove a rock from the world and see who notices, other than who put it there and, possibly, the ones that stepped on or over the rock or skipped it over the water.
I see the advantages in starting over. We, or in this case I, can shed old skin, crawl into a hole in the ground and reemerge as a new idea or thought or curiosity. Reinventing the self until it fits right and seems tailor made.
The worst part, as far as I can tell, is not the work to re-build but running across the names you knew who did not have the need or want to reinvent themselves or disappear for a while. The ones that early on found that niche that sings to them and ranks up there next to falling in love.
I could avoid them but would rather admire them or at the very least draw inspiration from their fortitude. I could ask them the why’s and how’s and if’s and create something from that pain. I would call it: The names I knew
and whenever I feel stuck, I’ll take that as the motivation to find new paths and undiscovered opportunities.
I will stop here while I know what’s next.
The truth scares me sometimes. It’s not that I can’t admit to it or am reluctant to face it but… I wonder where do I go once I have told the truth.
Do I pull and stretch my truth to make it last as long as possible or create new truths that I may not believe in, at least not entirely, so I may continue to create.
Or perhaps I am already looking for a way out of writing because I am scared I have nothing of value to say, or no stories people will read and love.
I have an idea…
I recently read a book entitled “stop doing that sh*t” by Gary Jhon Bishop. In the book he talks about what he calls Saboteurs that is three conclusions we have about ourselves, other people and life. These are things that have been so ingrained into our sub-conscious that we believe them as truths even though they are nothing but thoughts that we believe.
The conclusion I came to believe about myself is that “I am a burden.” No need to go into why I believe this (at least not right now)believing this false truth has been my way of returning to my safe zone. That is to say I’ve been holding back because I truly believed (and still do) that I am burdening others and stealing their time buy wanting them to read my writings.
I imagine the world would be a dull place it all artists allowed their doubts to overpower their desire to create…
I’ve decided that if I will take this writing seriously, then I will purge my old ways in favor of new actions. I deleted all my social medias accounts (save for Facebook for family) I devoted the next month and a half to pure writing and reading. At least during my free time.
Then, something in the new year, I will start up one or two of the social sites again and start sharing my words again. I will write the truth (even in fiction) because I do not want to waste any more of my life on self told lies.
And maybe, if the coffee and stories flow, if I am too busy to stop and ponder, maybe I will forget about that lie that I tell myself and truly believe there is at least one person who will read my works and not feel burdened.
I'm scared, I’m struggling, I feel lost
I am not only a writer. I write, but this is about more than my words. This journey is about embodying the concept that an artist is more than a painter or a sculptor or a writer or (enter your own niche here)
Being an artist what we do when we are alive. It’s a commitment to creativity, emotional labor and grit and love and the willingness to fail. It’s creating trust and connection. It’s forging into the unknown without a map willing to take a stand and be remarkable. Art is not something created by an artist - Artist are people who create art. (I stole that bit from Seth Godin)
Let's not get into the million dollar question of “what then I can call Art?” that question has the argument potential that might rival a drunken political debate. Instead, I want to focus more on “What we can achieve through the traits of an Artist?”
I love to write but as a full-time worker, a father, a husband, a son, as someone who wants to spend more time working out and running (two activities that have enhanced my life the great lengths) I rarely have the time to devote to writing. This is not an excuse to not write, No- this is stating that my mental health and family come before my desire to write. Simple as that.
I want to touch on two more things before I go
Number one: I prefer short writing pieces. I should have known this from this start. I’ve always been a person of few words, why should by writing (or anything I do) reflect my personality any differently?
Number two: This one took me many moons and self slaps upside the head to realize. Even if I lack the time to write (other priorities win out) that does not mean I have to hang my artists attitude out to dry or feel like I am wasting the potential to be creative.
No matter what I do in life from writing to spending time with my son, to ordering a cup of coffee, (even working a dead-end job) if I embrace the heart of the artist (commitment to creativity, emotional labor and grit and love and the willingness to fail, creating trust and connection.) then I truly will be an artist in the greatest sense of the word.
This concept opens the flood doors to a new world of possibilities. Where I can experiment with different projects in my life. (I have one brewing in my noggin as I type this)I can write when time permits or take photographs while in the park with the family. I can document an event through personal experience on video or keep it voice only as a podcast. I can reach for a paintbrush or ball of clay. I can teach what I know or listen so I may serve others better.
I know I must create more. The alternative is to continue to be numb, and that is not acceptable. That is not living.
From my perspective…
I am entering my forties as a confused if somewhat lost person. Which direction do I take? This road or that? Red pill or blue? Keep the faith or find new ways? Do I aggressively pursue something new in my life that excites me or does my family's safety and stability depend on me trudging through a "safe" job. (if those exist anymore)
I have none of the answers. But I have a few thoughts, ramblings really but that's how my mine works, in bits and pieces and various ideas...
Most day I feel as if I know nothing of what true writing is, other than to be honest and make it interesting someone could consider , anything other than that might be referred to as “experimental” and hidden away from the world. Whether this is true - I don’t know perspective.
I have not had the good fortune to find my passion(s) early in life. While this exposed me to a multitude of experiences I may otherwise have otherwise missed out on, it also delayed a deeper appreciation of the writing craft. Still, over the course of the last maybe two years, I would have had to discipline myself in the art of self sabotage not to improve, at least on some level.
So I wrote and improved. Not to say greatness sprung forth from my fingers but enough to keep myself encouraged and churning out prose. But let me for a moment write about the negatives if only to bring them to the light of the day.
I never constantly went through the agonizing yet much needed realization that one's own writing, so true and painstakingly written, so full of personal struggle, has become little more than a thousand different points of failure for other writers and readers to pick apart. - I never sought and accepted the criticism and feedback I needed to grow as a writer.
I’m a father first and a writer second. There’s not much more to say than that. I do not see this as a sacrifice. In a dream world I could do both right now all while working a full-time job. But in reality family comes first and writing a second and if that means a less chance of filling that ambition then so be it. This is not an excuse for not writing, just a flat out the truth that spending time with my son if be far a greater fulfillment than writing can fill.
Still- when I write, there is a dread in realizing how much more punishment my bruised ego will have to take. I find solace in knowing my writing (eventually) will reflect my own sufferings.
And if not, at the least, when my life draws the short straw, I will have perished on my sword, and have been worthy of my own sufferings.
I'll end here for now. While I still know what to say next.
Ryan is a writer in progress, inspired by many creators most notably Steven King, Norman Mailer, Seth Godin and Neil Gaiman (and many more). He writes mostly short works: short stories, poems, blog posts, but is also working on his first novel. He loves the entire writing process from the chaos of filling the black page to the final edits of his latest works. He enjoys nature and exploring new worlds and believes the worst day writing still beat the best day working unfulfilled
Ryan also has several short stories on this website.
The Feral Forest - An Artist to Authors Short Story by Ryan Rosenberry
The Ghost in the Soda Shop Mirror - An Artist to Authors Short Story by Ryan Rosenberry