Artistic Fury And Conflict


[Photo stolen from Halloween Street.]

It’s 1 a.m. and I just woke up. So I have to write my blog. That’s the rule.

Earlier today, I attended the Michael Wiese Publisher’s Summit. I was exhausted when I got home, and I went straight to bed. So I’m writing this entry as a vampire.

People always try to talk to me about music, but I dodge the topic. This time I won’t.

On the way to the event, I listened to Kevin Gilbert’s The Shaming of the True. It filled me with Artistic Fury.

I had some thoughts:

  • I wondered if I could have somehow become friends with him in real life if I hadn’t spent 30 years in exile in Florida. Maybe I moved to Los Angeles way too late (or maybe I’m just in time to fill the empty seat).
  • I first heard about Kevin Gilbert because people kept mentioning him when discovering my music. “I was researching Kevin Gilbert and came across your album.” I don’t really know why that is, but I heard his name often, and it was years before I discovered his music, too.
  • Kevin understood the Conflict of being talented yet aware of how badly the system is broken. And he didn’t hide it. He was capable of making music as innocent and pretty as Toy Matinee, and then plunging into psychological darkness with his later work. The more time I spend in The Imaginary City, the more the songs on his final album make sense to me. It’s as if his songs are revealed to me one-by-one when I’m ready to actually hear them.
  • I concluded that I don’t listen to music anymore, I listen to stories.
  • Kevin’s life story is such a tragedy. I don’t know how much of it is true, but WOW.
  • By the time I got to the event this morning, I was really, really angry at the world and didn’t want to be there. I almost just turned around and went home. I was feeling a lot of pressure, because they wanted to shoot a video interview with me, telling the world about my book. I wasn’t in control and haven’t performed in years — and I happen to know I suck without reading cue cards or having a good host. I tried to rehearse last night, but realized it was futile. My short-term memory deficiency is worse than I thought. I decided to just show up and be me, in the moment.

    When you’re at a conference with about 50 other authors, you find yourself pitching your book concept to people repeatedly. It’s good practice. It was a weird bunch — posers and visionaries of every kind. Michael Wiese described us as facets of a diamond.

    Instead of shaking hands, fake-smiling, and giving everyone my business card, I told the story of Kevin Gilbert. It occurred to me that his story related directly to the topic of my book, and I was able to see my own project on a deeper level because of it.

    When I just follow my own path with honesty and trust the artistic process, great things happen. I took a chance and just said whatever crazy things came into my mind. I could tell I was making people a little bit nervous and confused, but they seemed to like me… and I liked them, so that’s good. Not to sound too New-Agey, but this event was on a much higher level of consciousness than last year’s. At lunch, Judith Weston called my blog “Nutty.” Probably the best compliment my writing has gotten.

    Still… whenever I’m treated with respect or offered an opportunity, I assume someone made a mistake.

    Today’s example: I met a fellow MWP author who happens to host the podcast I listen to every week on my long bike rides to the comic book store. Within moments of chatting, I was asked to be a guest on her show, which just seemed impossible to me. I’m still convinced she thought I was someone else. If this actually happens it will be my biggest career achievement all year. It’s so spooky, like becoming a part of The Neverending Story. I won’t count on it, because yeah, it has to have been a mix-up.

    But that’s usually how I know I’m going in the right direction. Strange coincidences pop up. This entire book publishing deal has been an example of that. I didn’t think it would actually happen, and a year-and-a-half into it, I still have a hard time believing it. So I have to accept that being conflicted about it is essential. Because that’s how the magic of creativity happens.

    If you’re not seduced by the mystery of your own work, what’s the point?

    This is my public blog. You can also Join My Cult!

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