"Don't Give Up (Mini-Wednesday Manifesto)" by Richard F. Yates
I’ve been at this gig for a long time—MUCH longer than I usually stick with anything. First post was in December of 2012. Since then, I (and a handful of cohorts and imaginary friends) have posted more than SIXTY-ONE HUNDRED OTHER posts. For the last three or four years, I’ve posted 3 or 4 bits a day, almost EVERY DAY… And sometimes I think, “Why do I bother doing this?”
Sometimes—LOW TIMES—the motivation dries up. The words don’t come. The scribbles don’t scribble themselves. The contributions from people who aren’t in my head are few and/or far between. The LOW TIMES are tough to negotiate. No money, physically broken (I was a skateboarder for a decade, but I was a TERRIBLE skateboarder for most of that decade, meaning I crashed a lot. Wrists, ankles, knees—all shot… ALSO, I was a “mobile DJ” for twenty years and carrying 50 pound speakers up and down flights of stairs DESTROYED my back. I ain’t complainin’—I’m EXplainin’!), and confronted by mortality and the indifference of society…these things can make it hard to find the ENERGY to continue…
It’s tough, when your brain is like mine, to navigate the REAL WORLD anyway, but when the deck seems stacked against you, making the EXTRA effort to produce a daily blog can seem even tougher. I could come home at the end of the day and drop in front of the television. Stop reading, stop writing, stop drawing, and just suck in all the entertainment that’s out there. I could—or rather, I CAN’T. I thought about it, just a few days ago. I get no money from doing this gig. I put in long hours of ARTING and WORD ASSEMBLAGE, for the few seconds of endorphin bubble I get with the occasional “like” or “comment,” but still—I do this project, this THING, this CREATION BIT because the other option is VOID. The NOTHING—just like in Never Ending Story.
I’m screaming into the ABYSS. I’m mooning DEATH. I’m the nail that doesn’t want to be pounded down. To paraphrase KMFDM, I will be GODLIKE. (I don’t mean that in the wearing white robes and floating on a cloud sense—although, if someone has a pattern for making a wizard’s robe, with a hood and big, billowy sleeves, but one that will work for a 5 foot, 3 inch tall, “pleasantly plump” feller (I’m a Tolkien dwarf with designs on sorcerer-hood!) LET ME KNOW!) Where was I? Creation or something?
While most will passively accept what’s given to them, while most will simply enjoy the works of others, while most will consume until they drop—I am a CREATOR. I make SOMETHING where there WAS NOTHING. It was a blank piece of paper (or chunk of cereal box or grocery store receipt or cluster of unused pixels) and now it’s a monster or a story about a ghost or a poem that pretends to have been written by a robot. I HAVE to make new things, even if they aren’t what some people think are WORTH making. For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed the act of MAKING. You HAVE to enjoy being alive, or why be it?
Not everything I draw is good. (MOST things that I draw ain’t good.) But I draw a LOT of things, THOUSANDS of things, and out of those thousands of drawings, a couple of them have been pretty okay—a tiny number of them have connected, either with something primal in ME or with a handful of other humans. CONNECTED. Something I MADE (where there was NOTHING) connected. Not everything. Not MOST things. But I keep making things, and SOMETIMES, they connect. Sometimes I draw something cool.
Believe it or not, I write much more skillfully than I draw. (GASP!) Most of my EDUCATION was in literary studies, and when I put my mind to it, I can write a damn sentence. (Writing is MUCH harder for me than the art that I make. Writing is complex, has to be conscious, and takes time to conceive and construct. It takes EFFORT, which is why you see written work much less frequently than you see artwork from me.) Interestingly, my artwork also seems to get much more attention than my writing. I’ll spend a week working on a story or essay, and it will get about half the attention of a drawing that took me about three minutes to complete.
Writing is thinking. For ME, art is playing. Combining the two is thinking and playing.
(Did I ever mention that I enjoy nonsense?)
Times have been tough lately—reality has become uncomfortable. Politics are horrifying. The news is awful. Trying to make a living is nearly impossible. Sitting still is physically painful… And the payoff doesn’t always seem to be worth the effort. (Did I mention how much WORK doing all this COMPUTER STUFF is???) BUT I CARRY ON! I conceived of the possibility of quitting the blogger life. I thought, “It would be so much easier to NOT get up every morning and post a bunch of silly artwork and silly poems and silly stories and silly (probably too long for most people to read) essays… I could just STOP.”
And then twenty minutes later I was drawing something again, or I was writing about a haunted toaster or a cursed book. The CREATIVE IMPULSE is so overpowering that I couldn’t STOP it even if I wanted to (and I don’t.) If I’m MAKING THINGS anyway, then I might as well share them. If I SHARE them, they might inspire someone else to make something. TIME is a problem. It’s finite and we have obligations—but FIGHT time. FIGHT boredom. FIGHT consumerism. FIGHT DEATH. MAKE SOME SHIT! It will only exist if you create it. If it’s not good, make a better one. If you LIKE that it’s not good, make a thousand more just like it. Time is short, you only have one life to live (as far as I can tell), and you might as well be a CREATOR GOD in the time that you have instead of being a passive consumer. It probably won’t make you rich. It probably won’t make you famous. It probably WILL take a lot of effort and time and frustration, but when you’re DONE, when you’ve COMPLETED SOMETHING (where there was NOTHING), you might even make a CONNECTION (where there was NOTHING), which is worthwhile.
It’s a lonely, isolated universe, one in which we live EXCLUSIVELY in our own heads, but by making something (out of our heads—or, at least, with our hands, which are attached to our heads), making something, whether that’s a poem or a story or a joke or a drawing or a painting or an essay, you COULD make a CONNECTION to another head.
BY CREATING YOU ARE (potentially) CREATING A CONNECTION from the isolated, in-your-own-head universe that you inhabit to another being—perhaps a passing connection, a laugh, a sneer, a punch in the face, but a LINK nonetheless! Connections form networks. Networks carry information. Information can enlighten. Enlightenment is cool. Cool is how we get ice cream. Make shit, so there can be ice cream.
And don’t give up. If YOU don’t give up, then I won’t, either… Now, I’m going to take some Advil!
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)
#writing #humor #absurdism #philosophy #creativity #manifestos #primitivism