Silence can be a haven as well as a prison. For me, it was a blend of both merely because it was safe. A long time ago, I decided that it was better just to let my writing and art speak for me. It was a rather effective way of muting myself.
You see, people have this idea that being a writer and an artist is a very cool thing. In reality, it's not.
It's actually quite hard. To be an artist of any stripe requires a constant level of self-sacrifice. You put yourself out there for the world to see, twisting your pain, humiliations and successes into myriad shapes of expression. For your trouble you can be lauded or condemned. But much of the time, you'll simply be invisible.
The curious crowds stop seeing an artist after a while. Instead, they start to see their own faces or caricatures of what they believe the person to be. You find that eventually people really don't actually care what you think. They are more titillated by hearing what they think echoed through your artistic confirmation. That's where the pressure comes in, often without you noticing that you are slowly being backed into a box of expectations, definitions, and sentiment that never originated with you. Silence can be a blessed thing in these instances, but sometimes you get trapped there.
It's easy to recognize when you've become trapped. You start sweating bullets in front of a blank page. Once stable hands now destroy art work that lies half finished in your studio, each piece screaming your failures in hues of color and confusion. You find yourself simultaneously wanting to be seen and resisting the urge to book the next flight to a place to start over just so you can breathe. Life becomes a little box with your name on it, a coffin that follows you like a shadow. Then you start daydreaming of being free.
So why do this?
It's simple, really. You do it because, like me, you don't have a choice. There's something that drives you to finish these works even if no one will ever see them, carrying your footsteps towards writing classes and art stores with money you should be using for groceries and rent. They will say you are irresponsible. But it's more that they don't understand the reason.
My reason is that I feel like I was born in a skin that's too tight and too loose all at once, struggling to make sense out of a chaotic mess of sensory stimulation that never ends. Sometimes this world is too damn loud. Pushing and clawing our way out of an economic depression, the ground keeps shifting beneath our feet with each technological and scientific boom. Whatever certainly the generations had about life is gone, replaced with an undefinable something that's burning us all up like a fever. I'm living in the city that never sleeps because it is fueled by over eight million dreams, walking on sidewalks where homeless people beg for change while others wear the equivalent of a year's salary of clothing on their backs for fashion. And my response is to set an artistic blaze of my own.
In the end, maybe none of these efforts matter. But there are few things as calming as coming down from a two day binge of artistic frenzy, smoking a politically incorrect cigarette by the window as the night yawns into morning. Because in the midst of that frenzy, I am who I am supposed to be and life makes sense. That peace makes the rest secondary.
That's why I do this. So what's your reason?