Looking for immorality
July 18, 1983
That’s the answer to perfection.
You see if on the faces of lovers and winners. You see the strain of loss in the faces of those who lack it.
Hemingway once said that a writer writes everyday – writes and writes and writes, building on that secret part of himself, adding to the rich reservoir of experience which helps the writer grow.
I don’t mean life experiences. While you need those as well, you need the experience of writing itself.
Each sentence worked over and over again adds to the ability to write the next. You work and it becomes easier. You grow with creation.
I guess this is why I feel so guilty when I can’t finish what I planned in a day.
I get the urge, of course, to stop all the time, at the same time I am pushing myself to get on with it.
No true writer can face a black page without some apprehension. We need the force of creation to move us.
Drive is the answer – the willingness to come back to each it day for another bout of torture, and at the same time, a chance at immortality.
Sure books can be burned such as the Nazis tried. Christians can ban them. Yet as with a new technology, the ideas behind the words – once released – can’t be banned, burned or forbidden.
Not all words survive, though. Art is constantly tested for validity, and artists once thought great get lost in time as they fail some new test.
The truly worthy survive and thrive, and get remembered, and those who put such sentences together well enough find their immortality.
Even people with a lot more talent than I have get lost – such as Pauly, who is the most talented man I know. He can sing, write, draw, play a musical instrument, or petty much anything else he chooses to do, but lacks the drive to push himself and thus seems to languish.
Long ago, he rejected one of the more certain paths when he refused to get involved with academia, seeing schools of art for what they are – money lenders in the house of God.
We both hate the society of art and yet feel crushed when it refuses to recognize us, a strange dilemma all real rebels face.
Society constantly judges our worth, and tells us whether or not we measure up. While we claim this judgment fallacy, we believe it down deep and feel the sting.
Drive is the balm that makes us feel better. The lack of it traps people in book stores as with Michael, or me in this tiny Fotomat coffin.
John Lennon understood this when he kept pushing his band while playing the strip clubs of Hamburg, driving himself and them so that they could some day change the world.
Drive makes up for lack of luck or mistakes in timing.
So what if you’re not in the right place at the right time, maybe next time you will be, but you need to keep at it, keep pushing, keep creating even if what you turn out is shit.
So how do you keep it up? Where do you find the energy to drive the drive?
Some of those I meet ache for money or women or fame – the fuel that they put in their gas tanks to keep their drive going. Me? I want to be remembered after I am dead. I want to have done something so terrific that it will pass all the tests of time so that someone somewhere we think of me and know me through what I have written. That’s immorality.
This is why I keep writing and creating, even when for the most part what I do is shit. I believe as Hemmingway suggested that the process will perform some magic and if I do what I do long enough and work hard enough at it, driving myself all the time to make it better, that I might just make my mark on the world.
So what if I can’t make rent this month, or feed my face, or even pay the car insurance (not to mention the tickets I have accrued for not moving the car to the other side of the street in time for the sweeper), someday – perhaps long after I am dead – it might be worth it.