I imagine success in the arts to be some great house.
The goal of course is to get into this house and experience some success. Everyone wants to get inside , because no matter what you are doing out in the world, it can get cold, or hot, and stormy – all you want is a moment or two to feel calm and assured that you are on the right path.
We are then sold on front doors, where the lights are on and crowds are gathered. Bright shiny gates, ornately designed doorways, and grand rooms of glamour and riches. From the windows, what you see is a palace fit queens or better. We hear the enticing sounds of a crafty narrative telling of enlightened minds, triumphant sufferers and historic moments of arrival in history and popular memory.
Many spend their lives trying to get into this house. It is after all where all the magic we know of has happened. Some find a path in through darkened rooms and corridors, back alleys, filthy sewers, or moldy and infested basements. Ignoring their surroundings and the inevitable stench it coats them in, just to get in.
We imagine a lot, and we dream and plan our triumphal arrival for years. But once inside the story is far from complete, there are other steps and turns to consider. The house of course is not an end and far from everything we want, either as artists or as people.
Inside, one imagines an endless number of doors, each opening (if they open at all) to some other room of the story, and there are doors that lead you right back out and into the everyday. The house is warmer than it is outside, but you can’t control the heat. And what of the windows? What can you see? And what of the neighborhood and neighbors?
All we really want is comfort and safety from cold and storms. We want a place we can be, and explore, and grow. All the effort we put into getting into the house may end in emptiness, whether you are in or out. The cost is great, and the outcome more than uncertain.
The best option is to find our own place, and start building. Brick by brick, and room by room. What we build will endure, and what we care for will endure. And the pace of our work will keep us as warm. It won’t be the grandness of the house that will satisfy us, but rather its completeness, and the neighbors of course.
From outside some might feel contempt for such a house. They might yell and tell you that your house isn’t real or a good house. They may point to each of your weaknesses and tell you exactly whats wrong with them. Thats when you will need to keep the fire going and you will need the walls.
And you will stay inside then, keep warm, keep working, and invite everyone else in.