Fortune Cookie Friday – 14 august 2015

You are filled with a sense of urgency. Be patient or you may end up confused.

I’m a fuck up.  It’s not a realization I came to willingly, not something I say to friends, sheepishly, acknowledging, owning it.  Making it a part of me like “I surf,” or “I’ve got a limp.”  It isn’t something that makes me better.  It, or the realization.

I don’t tell people.  I’ve been telling people the opposite for years.  Late bloomer.  Big ideas.  Just waiting for my chance.  All that shit.  But reality is the hard thing coming through a jello fog of self-delusion.  It splits your head open, pours itself over your brain: You’re a fuck-up, Bobby, and no amount of bullshit is going make that bloom into anything else.

At twenty, maybe I was a late bloomer.  At twenty-five, hey, I’d finished college, finally.  I was catching up.  But here’s thirty coming six months away, and there’s nothing new to throw against the door, no new barricade to keep the truth out.  No gallery openings, no shows, no mentions, not even in columns run by friends, columns that used to run me regularly, just for a favor.  Even that’s worn out.

I’ve been without my own money long enough to honestly say I’m a deadbeat, or a would-be deadbeat if my parents didn’t still pay for everything.  I live in a loft, an expensive artist perch in the painter hive set in the middle of the whole artist safari preserve.  An expensive place for monied wannabes and too old, too hip already made its.  It’d be less embarrassing if I lived in a basement.  More honest.

I have nothing to do all day.  When I can’t paint, when the thought of the tubes, of mixing the oils, of even picking a paint brush, makes me think of noting but the lifetime of rinsing them back out, of cleaning my hands, of spent canvases running out my supply so that I have to go downtown and buy more, there’s nothing for me.  I can’t come home and say “work sucks, but there’s another day done.”  I work at home.  I live at work.

I spend so much time, so much money, at coffee shops people think I’m a writer.  Or homeless.  Same thing.  Again, maybe if I were it would be more honest.

I hated school, I hated everyone so much.  Teachers who didn’t understand basic principals, like jazz musicians who don’t know enough of the rules to know how to really break them.  Classmates, kids who called themselves artists since ruining their shoes with stolen markers at fourteen.  Kids whose idea of art was a Sisyphean pursuit of uniqueness, of rebelling against everything old and established in pursuit of different and ending up with nearly identical, technically passable, visually hideous blobs of spent paint.

I was so ready to get out on my own, to paint all night, paint what I wanted and not have to get up in the morning.  To be authentically myself.  All that rushing and I’m even less myself than I was before.

It’s been a rough week, as such, today’s FCF had as much to do with pessimism as it did the prompt. 

Last week I did promise a return to bleakness.

This sort of piece is how a lot of my characters begin.  I never know where the writing will go or how a given piece will end when I depict characters divulging themselves.  Some statements simply make sense and some simply don’t.  Soon, a pattern emerges and I start to understand who the character is or who I want he or she to be.  Then I can direct and start exerting conscious influence on their creations.

A lot of how I determine characters is through word choice.  Dialect.  Is he verbose, what turns of phrase does she use?  Contractions or rigid specificity?  Once I know how a character speaks or how he thinks, or especially how the two contrast, I begin to know the larger decisions he or she might make.  I rarely write character sheets with loads of background information that isn’t going to be used in the story, but once I have a character’s voice I could answer most questions about his or her hypothetical lives off the top of my head.  Voice acts like DNA, once I have that, I have the characters whole.

Have a good weekend, all, and thanks for the continued support.