Reasons to write
I found my old essay, called “One day in the life of Daria.” Our English class assignment was based on the work of Solzhenitsyn’s, “One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich.” My teacher wrote: “you could write a novella one day.” Never did I think that it would happen, but fast forward 10 years and I wrote a book.
Looking back, I never really liked school writing. I liked reading, but my English class teachers were always the rigid types, who thought that great writing is about making it as far removed from the ordinary people and as incoprehensible as possible. That was the hallmark of great literature in their eyes. Writing always had an aura of pretentiousness around it. Being an artist and a rebel at heart, I despised the snotty, superiority feel of becoming part of the literary crew that divided people in losers and winners. Maybe it was the stuff I read in the news and on forums, or maybe it was the dissapointed with life scoffing literature teachers, but I quickly got this impression that the literary world is populated by cringy snobs: the gatekeepers that sucked the artists dry, the selfappointed judges who never wrote more than a sticky note themselves, the talentless ever-fluttering social butterflies that want to be part of something special, the shameless self-promoters and the preachers-leeches who know exactly how you should write and why you shouldn’t do it. And everybody wants to stand out, and everybody is shouting. With time I came to realize that this goes for any creative industry.
So I very quickly developed a dislike towards it, and actively tried to avoid it like a plague. Socializing with the artsy types? No thanks. Think retail or corporate world is toxic? Think again. The idea of networking, self-promotion, seeking validation by standing at the doorstep of some fancy book launch, with a champagne in your hand and a pleading smile was below me. It was just like my story with Facebook: I hated the hype and the idea that you need to join it just because everybody else is doing that. Art to me is all about freedom and self-expression. I was not going to throw myself at the guardians of the industry, or go out of my way to create contacts devoid of any real connection, or join social media to get ahead of the other peers. If you enjoy it, kudos to you, nothing wrong with that, but if it goes against your values and personality – don’t do it and don’t tell others that this the only way to literary (or any other) success, because it isn’t.
I guess this approach seems self defeating initially. But I firmly believe that you must stay true to yourself and moral compass. Just like a marathon runner would feel like an imposter if they won using doping, a success based on a lie is not the kind of success that gives you the true sense of accomplishment. Not if you’re a real artist, anyway. Besides, there’s more to art than numbers, the ammount of followers or sales. Art is not just a business venture, or a product, and it shouldn’t be presented that way. Nor should it be seen as a means to get an entrance to a world of glamour and prestige. Just because we live in a hyper consumptionist society that sees value in things that can only be traded for money, doesn’t make it correct in the grand scheme of things. If this was always the case we wouldn’t have unique art: just mediocracy.
I’m a free spirit, I flout convention. What I do welcome is authenticity and honesty; sincere relationships, unusual encouters and meaningful experiences: to feel the rich fabric of life, to inspire feelings in others, whether they are truck drivers, the girls next door or the lost souls, searching for purpose. If I get rich doing it – great, if I don’t – oh, well. I’ll still do it. That is why I create: to tell a story, to put a smile or bring a tear to someones eyes, to give hope or share ideas. But most of all I do, because my heart tells me to.