Jerry Gray: My dog ate my inspiration …Written by Jerry Gray | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m positive everybody out there has some iconic perceptions of artists and could probably give some wild examples of people they’ve known in different situations or that they have heard about acting and reacting in peculiar ways that just didn’t make sense to them. I’ve heard stories about fellow artists, including myself, referred to as mean, weird, dysfunctional, inappropriate, malnourished, poorly maintained, exciting, positive, soulful, hardworking, eloquent, lazy, influential, antisocial, sweethearts and/or the craziest person “someone” has ever known.
I am assuming you have a similar story somewhere in your history or could easily think of a situation where you could discard a previous perception about an individual by simply realizing “they’re just a crazy artist,” or at least give them a little leeway because of this fact. As well you should in most cases.
As many people who fancied themselves as artists in their youth realized, it’s tough to question your pertinence, your message, your lifestyle, your ideology and yourself as a whole on a daily basis when you are constantly pushing yourself to question and produce legitimate work that is able to speak to individuals on a mass scale, who may or may not really care. The struggle of an artist to make someone care can break many who try. Even if they are attempting to merely keep themselves excited and interested in the work they are producing.
Even the most prolific artists I’ve ever met have had challenging moments of creative frustration and trying times that have inhibited their production. Whether you’re working professionally or for enjoyment, the skeleton key to getting through this threshhold of discontent is to simply keep working and stay confident. Much like a manic individual who has moments of bliss and clarity and others of deep depression or numbing frustration it is much easier to say than do the majority of the time.
Although inspiration in some respect can motivate an individual to produce work of influence and particular poignancy, I still believe that inspiration is overrated and acts as an easy crutch for artists who simply don’t feel like producing. When you get up and are getting ready for work you usually aren’t worried about inspiration regarding your workday.
You get up, get ready and go to your job realizing you are there for a purpose, even if your sole purpose is to pay your bills or earn a little extra cash to go enjoy copious amounts of libations, vacation or to afford the organic necessities that enrich your daily moments with ideas of internal understanding.
You still get up and go. Too often, creatives utilize the old “my dog ate my inspiration” as an excuse to not produce the work that has motivated them through the majority of their life. This is just unacceptable. An artists work ethic should be perceived and appreciated the same way as a factory worker who has gotten up every day for the past thirty years to go to a job that has supported and nourished his/her family and their livelihood. This may sound simple enough, however for a creative spirit whose general happiness lies in their self-reflection and production of what they feel is the most important thing in their life, any amount of time lacking productive (inspired) work can be an agonizing state, both mentally and emotionally. However, many artists just don’t realize the only therapy for such a state is to keep working and discussing it with like minded and interested individuals whom they respect.
I hope the artists out there reading this realize that if I am writing about anyone, it would be myself. I have found myself with this excuse almost rehearsed at times like a clever worn-out greeting and it’s namely to myself that I am speaking. As with all internal arguments that fester in the soul of a creative, I just had to put it out there to share, finally.
Keep up the work, figure out if it’s good later, just keep doing it like that old grizzled man who just won’t stop working until his day is done and feel the reward that comes along with a hard day’s/ life’s work.
Jerry Gray is an artist, writer, vocalist, bartender, gallery owner and advocate of the Toledo Potential, which promotes the retaining and featuring of artistic talent and culture in our city.