And so it is that I've returned to a kind of beginning, because lately everything is a mystery--the only difference being that I'm not as confident that the solutions are forthcoming. Because the question now is more urgent. Since those salad days when I could close down a bar debating important creative and intellectual questions and all responsibilities were secondary to the development of my craft and my persona as a writer, I have become a husband and a father and employed in an (uncreative) career that most days I can convince myself is meaningful and personally gratifying. So the question, "What does it mean to create art?" isn't just an abstract parlor game; it's an essential philosophical conundrum that is the beginning of a reconciliation between the socially unnecessary but personal drive to create and the socially and personally necessary responsibilities and roles that I have accepted as an adult. Of course, I believe that art, and its creation, are socially necessary as well but the conundrum arises because this feeling is not reflected in the value system of America in 2016. So, how do we continue to create, to make it a priority, amidst all the other pressures and priorities in our lives? And why?
Because if there isn't a reason, an important reason, to do it, then why bother? It's difficult to sit and make something. It requires energy and concentration and time and space. It is often frustrating, as your intention and imagination never translate with satisfaction into what you're making. It's a lifelong chore with no end and no financial benefit.
So I've been revolving around this question. Is it worth it? Why? The basic answer I've come to is: Yes, because if I don't do it, I'm fucking miserable.
The reasons for this are many, but the good one, the satisfying one, is that it moves me, and makes me feel light, and engaged with my mind and feelings. It empties me out and energizes me. It gives me a chance to work through questions and memory in a way that is both immersed and detached. And it makes me proud, to have created something beautiful and strange and funny and sad. So that's why. But of course, that's not the only question.
The two other, big questions are: how do you do it? and what do you do with it? The "how" question, I have no answer for. That is a work in progress. But the answer to "what do you do with it?" is this website. I've wrestled with this a bit over the past year or so because I was pretty adamant that I wanted to submit regularly to magazines and maybe contests and to get my work "out there" in a traditional way, for all the usual reasons: approval and acceptance and exposure. But during all the months I've waited to hear back on stories, only to have the story ultimately not published (in good magazines, and some pretty shit ones too) I came up against the question of what I'm doing this for.
Writing, in particular, demands to be shared. It is a transmittal of thoughts and feelings, the manipulation of emotion and expectation, it's strength is in surprise. I get personal satisfaction from creating it, but if no one else reads it, the work is half done. Or, my satisfaction is half of what it could be. I want to know that I have managed to create an effective work, and I want to be challenged to do better. If I am challenging myself to continue to create so as to maintain my own happiness and sanity, I feel like I must also get the work out there, and I'm tired of waiting six months or a year to share my stories. That's just not why I make them anymore.
So, while I may be sending out some stories once in awhile, mostly, I'll be putting them here on Here, Esquilax! I'll be revising some old stuff, and writing some new stuff, and it will all go here. Each new story I put up will be accompanied by a blog post (within a few days or maybe even a week of the story going up) that will talk about the process of the story. The blog posts tied to the stories will be a place for commentary: criticism, questions, congratulations, whatever--even just saying, "Dude, I read this." It means the world to me.