I suffer from a kind of magical thinking. I work in a rarified environment trying to perfect things … to get them right. I have a fair number of these ‘projects’.
Projects: ideas on which I concentrate.
novels – none ready for prime time yet.
poems – I please my own aesthetic about 60% of the time now. Nonetheless, they don’t appeal to other people generally.
short stories – far more ideas for these than actual, finished works.
essays – on philosophy, politics, and religion. For me, figuring out what a thing is is very important. These tend to have only limited appeal as they require too much of a reader.
essays – on literature.
music composition – functional, not inspired. I can produce arrangements that are usable. I require a lot more experience to be pleased with any original composition, I think.
music performance – I’m not interested in performance. I’m very good at figuring out how to play certain things, but that’s the end of the process for me. This is mostly, but not exclusively classical, and a lot of it has more to do with being able to teach than to perform. I obsess about a song and play it because I must play it. This was true of most minor key Bach (both WTCs), Chopin preludes, walzes, specific etudes, specific nocturnes – the ballades, mazurkas, etc. don’t appeal to me at all. Mussorgski’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Rachmaninoff – a few random pieces and the 2nd Piano Concerto (I’m not finished with this yet). Prokofiev Sonatas. Debussy, when I’m in a particular mood. There are a number of other things I just don’t understand or get. I can perhaps play them at need, but I don’t connect with them and it shows. (Most Mozart, most Beethoven, most Hayden, fall into this category.) My current obsession piece is Liszt Totentanz. I’ve never liked Liszt, but this piece feels entirely different from his other works.
In music, my technique is quirky. Some things come very easily to me that others find difficult. Other things strike me as monstrous and unplayable – that others find easy.
More importantly, in actual performance, I connect with an audience on music that I’m not exactly ‘proud’ of. I mean here, what is most effective are not the things that require technique. While they are things that reach me on a deep level, they are only a small subset of those things.
Art: I have only mediocre sensibilities. I lack the skill, and I don’t think like a visual artist. I’m far too linear. The best that I can manage in this area is to encourage people who are considerably better than I am.
I could go on here, but there is not a lot of point.
I say this because I’ve just realized something. I mean, I knew it, of course, but it never sank in until this morning. I had the magical notion that if I worked on these (and other similar) things, I would succeed. But there is a step missing. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to perfect them. And I’ve had mixed results.
But nowhere in my thinking was a plan for sharing those things – I would work on them, and everything would work out… somehow.
Here is the rub: the world is not going to come to my door unless I owe it money.
In a purely theoretical universe, I would be content with fulfilling my own ambitions in these areas. If I’m happy with something I do or produce, then that is enough. It has satisfied my own requirements. But that theoretical universe lacks two things.
One is sharing – you share what you make because you connect with people in a unique way. It is the enjoyment I get from reading or listening to music – when I have that moment of recognition where one soul touches another. Divorced from story or context or fame, it is pure communication, and it is profound on some level. So, speaking in a vacuum misses that element of connection.
The second is a way to make a living. That is a very prosaic, mundane concern, but it is a rather felt need at the moment. I am not by nature overly greedy. It is not that I require many things, or even that I want the illusion of control over my life – that no one really ever attains. It’s just that there is a basic level necessary to life that demands attention.
So, what’s my point?
If the world will not come to my door, I must go to its door. And I’m asking the obvious question: how do I do that?
I am genuinely asking this. If you have any ideas, please share.