Some things typed out on an Olivetti Studio 45 on Halloween.
Writing, like all art, is an act of will, not the result of random inspiration. We might sit around and hope that the mood will strike us, but, deep down, no matter how much we hope, we know that this is not how it works. The Muse doesn’t favor those who are sitting around, nor does she come to those who have oriented their days around Netflix or booze or any other time-sucking distraction, especially those designed to numb our minds and take us out of the game by handing us over into addiction. Make no mistake; this is exactly what so many of our modern entertainments are designed to do: create inside of us an emotional response which will guarantee my need to stay right there with the thing. This is the attention economy. t is wonderful for those looking to pass the time, but it is deadly for the artist. The artist needs time, but the attention economy eats it all up. Why not watch that next episode? Why not doom-scroll GoogleNews for another half hour? Why not continue to click refresh on the fivethirtyeight polling averages to see if there’s been a change in the last ten minutes, the last ten seconds.
More than ever, art is resistance.
Resistance against the odds.
Resistance against expectations.
Resistance against another Saturday spent with beer stuck in my hand like I’m a LEGO figure who needs someone else to come along and pry it out for me.
Art requires time.
Time in the seat, pounding away at the keys.
Time in the mind, working out the idea, the solution, the answer.
Time in the heart, seeking to understand the other, seeking to understand the self, seeking to understand, getting curious.
Curiosity, the trait absolutely required of anyone seeking to make art—curiosity not just about the craft, but also about the world—requires a commitment rare in the fast-paced world of the attention economy.
To take the time, to resist, to create, to foster curiosity, these require commitment. How committed am I? The answer can be gleaned from my Google Calendar, filled up with blocks of time that aren’t me making things.
If it’s important, then we pencil it in. We put it in the calendar. We block off a few hours for curiosity to take us where it needs to go.
The Muse will meet us there. I am confident of that. She always seems to find us in the right place, the right time.
The Muse will meet us there.