“I gotta keep my Capricorn mind straight,” said the planet of Saturn to the writer writing this post. Okay, so that first sentence had a weird third person shift–almost like a third person shift to a different third person gear, but the first third person perspective was oddly different from the latter, which was equally bizarre but uniquely awkward. See what I mean? I do need to keep this Capricorn mind straight. Saturn was right.
I said it before. The last grade I completed was the sixth grade. Then later in life I went on to obtain a Master’s Degree. I think a lot of it had to do with riding waves. Not in the ocean. I’ve never been daring enough to take on those types of challenges. But riding waves of opportunity. Sometimes I look back and it’s interesting to see how it all lined up and came to fruition, as though in symmetry, like musical notes being plucked from the strings of a guitar. In time and rhythm it can make a beautiful song.
Getting bogged down in the muck is an artist’s nightmare. You’ve done the initial work. Maybe you painted the paintings, recorded the songs, or wrote the novels, and then you have to take the creation and offer it to world. Just when you thought you were done. There’s a million more hurdles.
If you’re going to write you might as well write something that’ll potentially change the lives of your readers. Otherwise, shelve your words and save them for someone who needs affirmation. When I sit down to write I don’t want to say things that will safely get me sales. In fact, I care about sales only as an indicator for the number of readers I reach. More importantly, I want readers to be knocked back on their heels and say to themselves, “I didn’t know.”
So I’m walking through a bookstore in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico and I’m reading blurbs. I’m not going to blast any artists. That’s not what I’m about. We all come from a different set of experiences. But why are mainstream book publisher publishing the same narrative over and over and over and over? These blurbs seeming lay out different storylines, but when you look at the macro’s macro you start to see a pattern.
So I’m about to rant. I know…you’re saying to yourself, “Oscar, you always rant.” But this is going to be a special kind of rant. I’m going to unburden myself with all the reasons why artists need to be supported. In every way, emotionally and financially. We don’t live in an age of benefactors! If artists are going to be the voice for the under-heard and disadvantaged, then we need fuel for the fire, we need people surrounding us and giving us the energy to keep fighting.
Champions endure the hardest hits–psychological and emotional–and carry themselves forward with the idealism needed to see through the most barren desert landscapes. We’re charged with getting an education and then returning home to make things better. We’re up for the challenge. But we can’t be surprised when we get hit on both sides of the drum.
There you are enjoying the advantages of not being accountable and then a writer moves in next door. At first you think, “Oh, this will be interesting…to have an artist type in the community,” and then you realize writers write. More importantly, writers stand up for the weak, abused, and disadvantaged.
I was in grad school when a professor asked, “What metaphor would you use to describe how power structures stay intact?” We were studying Faucoult and had come to his explanation of how individuals give up their power to others, with his example of a moving ship and how everyone does their part to keep the ship moving forward and are in fear of what would happen if the ship stopped moving. I agree with Faucoult’s analogy. It makes sense in most situations. In a modern context though, I’m thinking more along the lines of interstates.
I don’t denounce structuralism. Every time I watch a Disney or Pixar movie with my daughters and tears start welling up in my eyes by simple structural tactics, like music and camera angles, I’m reminded there is a reason it works. But I’m a literary writer and we are defiant bastards and we like to take structuralism and bend it our will. So we can look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “The industry will not make me a slave.”
How to hear? Not to listen, like saying “You need to pay attention,” but instead how we create consistency in our voice as artists. How do we hear voice? How do we recognize what is uniquely our own? Is one obstacle. Then the next. How do we reproduce it again and again?
That’s how far back we’re about to go. I’m going to use a simile only a certain generation will understand. Remember tapes? It kind of sounds odd to say now. Tapes. Sounds like a prehistoric infection. If my kids overheard me ask someone if they “had tapes” when they were a teenager, they would think it was an STD. Like an old school slang term for gonorrhea. But I digress, as usual. I’m about to rewind my tape and take young and old back to my days as an introverted neophyte surviving on southern sweet tea and tapes.