When you choose to focus on art full-time, funny things happen. And they’re not all roses. Trust me. The famous British philosopher and founder of Social Darwinism, Herbert Spencer, once said, “There is no growth without emotional laceration.”
Recently, after a harrowing, eye-opening social media experience, I came to perhaps the most important epiphany of my artist life. I believe that we all, after being hurt and frustrated, build defenses around ourselves. These defenses can make us feel special, separate, even protected. Long ago, following human tragedy, I built a fortress. After reading books by all the greats, some gone, and some still here, from their indomitable words, I stole jewels and made a beautiful crown, which I placed upon my head … and called myself a great writer.
Perhaps if one of you, like some raved one-star reviewer, had told me long ago what a vain ass I was, I might not have been ready to accept the truth.
Now I am ready.
I, Jesse Giles Christiansen, hereby confess to all who might read this that I have no idea whether I am a great writer or not, and, that such a determination, if it were ever true, is hardly one that could be self-declared. The greatest writers of our generations were crowned only after unimaginable sacrifice and incessant rejection, and even they did not crown themselves. I only think that I’ve moved a few readers with my words because strangers have said so. Beyond that (e.g., moving a vast number of readers) is perfectly beyond my control.
Now I’m free to be the writer I must be, rather than the writer I think I must be. And from here on, I promise, it will all be about the words and nothing else. For they go with us, in the end.
Yours in literature,