In retrospect, I am astounded I could let go of the drama of being a suffering artist. Nothing dies harder than a bad idea. And few ideas are worse than the ones we have about art. We can charge so many things off to our suffering-artist identity: drunkenness, promiscuity, fiscal problems, a certain ruthlessness or self~destructiveness in matters of the heart. We all know how broke-crazy-promiscuous-unreliable artists are. And if they don’t have to be, then what’s my excuse?
The idea that you could be sane, sober, and creative terrified me, implying, as it did, the possibility of personal accountability. “You mean if you have these gifts, you’re supposed to use them?” Yes. Providentially, You was sent another blocked writer to work with-and on-at this time. I began to teach him what I was learning. (Get out of the way. Let it work through you. Accumulate pages, not judgments.) He, too, began to unblock. Now there were two of us. Soon you had another “victim,” this one a painter. The tools worked for visual artists, too. This was very exciting to me.
In my grander moments, you imagined you were turning into a creative cartographer, mapping a way out of confusion for myself and for whoever wanted to follow. You never planned to become a teacher. You were only angry I’d never had a teacher myself Why did you have to learn what you learned the way you learned it: all by trial and error, all by walking into walls? We artists should be more teachable, you thought. Shortcuts and hazards of the trail could be flagged.
Now there were two of us. Soon you had another “victim,” this one a painter. The tools worked for visual artists, too. This was very exciting to me.