Monday, June 15, 2009

Are Artists Actually Valued?

This day finds me somewhat discouraged--not at all my natural state of being. For the past month, very low red blood cell counts have kept me quite undeniably incapacitated.

Bluntly put, I have been too weak to do much more than sleep.

Most frustrating in all this (besides being unable to fully enjoy these brief summer months with my rapidly growing children) has been the complete inability to write during this time. As I lay beneath my covers on my love seat struggling to will, bully, and cajole my traitorous body to conform to some semblance of health, the days have lapsed--formless, shapeless, and identical in that maddening sameness of inactivity. The mere act of forming organized thoughts, be it to speak, think, or (heaven forbid) actually write requires while I recuperate supreme exercises in determination, concentration, and sheer stubborn will--all of which, I am learning, prove a notable drain on my energy and stamina.

For a woman not yet forty, it is a humbling and infuriating state of affairs.

Most frustrating of late, however, has proven to be (of all things) organizing the fledgling writers' discussion group at the local library. Were it possible to hold the gatherings in my own tiny apartment, I would, for--in my mind, at least--the invaluable exchange of experiences and ideas truly demands an atmosphere of hospitality. After all, one's writing can be so very personal, such an integral part of one's being that relaxation, developing a degree of trust and comfort with other members of the group can be pivotal for many of those learning to share their works with others. I suppose, as a writer, I am quite sensitive to, extremely passionate about this. Thus, when after four long years of calling, pursuing, and getting the run-around with regards to organizing the group in the first place I am told that the basic effort of providing coffee and/or tea--even when I volunteer to provide the coffee itself and even drag a coffeemaker from home--is treated like an imposition, I find myself wondering if the whole matter is worth the effort.

To be truthful, my frustrations run far deeper than serving coffee. Discouraging for me is the ever-present, ever-growing disdain for writers--for artists in general--and what we do. The prevailing attitude seems to be that anyone can write, leaving no room for even the slightest degree of appreciation for the creative process, for the energy, the talent, the imagination inherent in the writing process. No, I do not consider myself one of the "greats"...yet; nevertheless, I strive daily to achieve my own personal greatness, as do the men and women I consider my contemporaries. Even though the days of sincere art appreciation seem, at times, far behind us, one would like to think that within our society exists a small core of enthusiasts willing to in some way encourage the creative process, the development of great (or at least imaginative, innovative) thought. It is based upon that belief (perhaps, I am learning, quite naively so) that I was willing to drag myself up from my love seat, ignore the racing and pounding of my heart, the dark veil of disorientation lowering itself over my senses, and the constant struggle to remain lucid despite the lack of oxygen to the brain in order to drag myself to the library, paste a big grin on my face, and soak in the waves of fresh ideas, of imagination and vitality flowing from the writers who arrived willing and brave enough to share their hopes, joys, triumphs and failures with a group of complete strangers in the optimistic hope of somehow forming a connection in the form of a single, supportive, entity designed to encourage, enhance, and otherwise affirm each individual's foray into the realm of writing.

If, however, even basic encouragement cannot be found in the local library (!)...

What does that say about the attitude towards the creative process (in this case, as it pertains to local writers and the encouragement of those writers) in general?

Once, there existed a belief that great talent, artistic energy, creative thinkers provided such profound benefits to society in general that any and all efforts to nurture their development were well justified; as such, there were often benefactors--if their "only" contribution was avid, sincere encouragement--ready, willing, an eager to "support" the arts.


We can't even get a cup of coffee.


  1. "Support" the arts? How provincial. We don't support writers in this country anymore! Writers have very little backing in the United States; that's why there hasn't been an American Nobel laureate in Literature since 1993.

    As for the New Haven Public Library--none of those people are qualified. If they were, the place would be more than a hang-out spot for rowdy teenagers. They don't do anything to encourage adolescent literacy, they don't support up-and-coming writers...honestly, keeping it open is a sad waste of taxpayer dollars.