Am I tortured enough to have my name in lights? (part two of two)

For part one of this post, I started off by mentioning Erik Proulx, who is an advertising copywriter trying make it the world of art. He has a Big Idea. He’s made a movie called Lemondade about adfolk who have had to re-boot their lives after being booted out of adland during the economic meltdown. Now he’s in the process of writing a book on the same subject, only he’s expanded the subject matter to include some non-adfolk, I think, as well as extending the Lemonade film idea to other industries (for example, he’s currently working on Lemonade Detroit).

On Monday of this week, Erik posted about how stressed he is, as the pressures of everyday life mount (kids, mortgage payments, wife, etc.), while his bank account dwindles and his debt rises.  At first I kind of saw myself in Erik’s shoes, as I pursue music after being punted from adland following a severe traumatic brain injury. But in thinking about it more, I’m not in his shoes at all. I’m not choosing between melodies and mortgage payments, lyrics and lullabies, or rhythms and relationships. In fact, I’m not sacrificing much of anything. And this got me to thinking, am I tortured enough to call myself an artist?

In yesterday’s post, I gave a short answer of no. But I hinted at a longer answer that showed more promise in revealing the true depth of my angst. And if you read Genie’s comment, you already know what that longer answer is. Here is part of what she wrote:

“In my case, not creating the art, whether I'm sacrificing or not, leaves me unbelievably cranky and bereft -- as if I'm missing some critical piece of myself.”

That’s it! Truly, if I’m not working on a song or two or three or ten, the ideas bottle up inside me and create pressure. Like Genie, my mood slips into an even worse state than normal, as my levels of tolerance drop to zero, my depressive tendencies get really excited about the opportunities before them, and my coffee consumption rises. It’s a horrible cycle, broken only by taking a long moment to work on music. Best is if I can pick up the Maton, plop on the living room couch and let my mind wander as ships drift by in the bay outside. Next best is writing lyrics in a café. I also get some relief by going for a run and just working out song ideas in my head.

What would I do in if I were in Erik’s shoes, tortured not just because of the art inside me trying to push its way out, but also because of externalities, such as debt and children, holding my art in by constantly forcing me to choose between it and Real Life? I don’t know, but if I had to guess, I would say I would give up on the art  thing and go back to work and raise some money and then pursue the art from a more comfortable place. Years later, I might have some money, and most certainly no art. And then I’d be really tortured.

Erik, you rock! And I hope you make every movie and write every book you can dream up.