Question: Why do you write?
Answer: It’s just the way it makes me feel, you know, that feeling of being one with the universe and witness the soul open up to the warm emptiness of everything that surrounds us — that feeling of being so alone and yet so full.
My actual answer sounds far less like I had intercourse in space and far more pithy, and banal:
I write for myself.
The idea of creating for oneself is a cosmic commandment in the world of art. I use art here to mean everything from painting to writing to rapping to playing the ukulele.
So I can understand the is-that-literal-batshit expression on people’s faces when I tell them my answer.
It feels slightly unholy, very unqualified to talk about what this feeling of doing something for yourself really means. What exactly do I mean when I say I write for myself and then put out essays with screwy titles, week after week.
It’s true we create art for more than just ourselves. We feel this smug satisfaction when people notice our art. And even better if they pay for it (no, seriously, about time you pay).
We go on creating knowing darn well it will go unnoticed — and unpaid. But this isn’t masochistic. It is resuscitation. It isn’t a waste of time. It’s a resurrection of time.
Everything I put out here is the combined effort of the people living and dead. Of people that know me, and don’t; of the ones I have known, know and will know; of people that create(d) — for themselves and, inevitably, fatefully: for me.
In referring to myself as an artist, what I am doing, in essence, is preserving the efforts of artists that made art. They didn’t choose me. I chose them and this (writing) is the medium I picked to supply oxygen to their efforts.
What I am not directly telling you is that I am the one that needs that oxygen the most. I don’t write for myself because I have to. I do it because I need to.
In putting out essays like this here, I am only hoping to keep the supply going. The art making you (or I), the reader (the writer), come alive is a side-effect.
Living, after all, is a side effect of being able to breathe.
Writing for myself is both selfish and selfless. But it’s not heroic in the slightest sense. It does not deserve attention for the mere act itself. I am only trying to pass on a few things in order to keep them alive for longer. Some, you’ll hold on to. Most, you won’t even realize came into existence.
The only hope is that you pass on whatever held you and whatever you hold. I don’t so much care about etching my name on any of that. As long as it does to someone what it once did to me.
I write for myself. But I also write for those that wrote for themselves. I write for the ordained condition that is my becoming. I write so that when people ask me why I write, I can point to this post and force them to give me money.
If you are sitting there thinking: I don’t write or paint or play the ukulele or rap-battle — I am not an artist and I am jealous of all the money you are making — don’t expect me to tell you stuff like everyone’s an artist and writing an email is an art and inane shit like that.
What I’ll tell you instead…