Wednesday, July 8, 2015

800 Words: What Should I Do?

I have so many projects to work on right now that I'm blocked on all of them. The last two movements of a 4-cello piece (and a revision of the second), a non-fiction book of history I haven't written any of since last summer, perhaps a piano piece too, a fiction book that's marinated in my head since 2010 with not many stabs at getting it done, a play I seem to have given up on after the 3rd scene, a long series of pieces of choral music I've wanted to write since 2009. The mere act of writing this litany down is depressing as hell, and those are only the projects I've actively wanted to work on right now, I have literally fifty more I've cooked up with some notes on them and I can't even begin to fathom how I would get them done. The one project I've been somewhat successful is on losing the weight I gained fifteen years ago in college, and I've only started buckling down for a long haul of resisting every food that used to make me feel like bliss to eat, and now makes me feel like death.

Hell, I'm even blocked on this blog. I've been trying to summon up the willpower to write this post for the last two weeks, and I always find a reason not to.

As my life becomes relatively well-settled, I find my ceaseless and ever unsatiated ambition beginning to dry up. At 33, I'm beginning to find that I don't have quite so many things to prove, at least to myself, as I did when I was 17, or 25, or even 31. Why rock the boat? Why take on the inevitable misery and drudgery of trying to make 'Great Art' when it might rock the boat of a relatively decent situation? Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?

I know myself too well to not assume that this too shall pass, and fairly soon I don't doubt I'll go back to being the world's laziest ADD workaholism that has defined so much of my life thus far. One project, then the next, then the next, never finishing any of them, never getting anybody much interested in them but myself, never showing that I can fulfill the responsibilities to which I've entrusted myself, let alone those to which others have entrusted me.

There was an interesting article about Baltimore in the New York Times last week. The article was absolutely right, there is something about living in Baltimore that kills ambition. And for a person who was always so ambitious as I, nothing has ever been so direly needed as this kind of hipster paradise where nothing gets done, every day is like every other, drama is minimal, every aesthetic catastrophe by every would be artist is found interesting by somebody, and every person strives at all costs to be positive toward one another, because to be anything but uncritical would be to remind ourselves of the ever-present failure to create a better city that goes on in every other corner of this perennial sick man of East Coast cities. Who would have ever thought that a tropical paradise could be found in Baltimore? It's like permanently living in the Virgin Islands or St. Maarten.

Against all evidence, I still believe that somewhere within me and outside of this blog, I have a real creative voice that people want to hear. Somewhere in me, it is there. A typical DC person would read those two sentences and laugh behind my back at its stupefying pretension, even as they all believe the same thing about themselves. A typical Baltimore person would read it and be heartened and roused, resolving to do everything within their power to help my voice become a reality - even if they can't do much, because nothing wilts amidst all this positivity as quickly as real creativity. But I have not found a voice yet that compels me, or compels others, enough for me to stick with the idea for more than a few days at a time without becoming distracted. Is it even worth pursuing?

Baltimore is a creative paradise where every artist does everything he or she can to help each other. But when you have no life experience outside this bubble of positive thinking, what can you possibly express that would be of interest to anyone who doesn't share your prejudices? I hope against hope that what I say isn't true, and amidst all this creative support and help, somebody will rise up to create something of true and lasting quality. But what would it be?

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