With the feeling you’ve done good work comes the desire to share it with your fellow-travellers. It could be argued that this is egotism – the ‘look at me!’ impulse. ‘I’ve done this great thing; notice me! Congratulate me!’ and so forth. It’s easy to imagine that any commendation for the work one has done makes it feel worthwhile, adds to its personal value by demonstrating a meaningfulness to others. Or maybe it’s actually kinder than that. ‘You might get something from this. Would you like to try it?’ ‘I made this thing. Would you like a little piece?’ ‘Will you listen to how I was feeling, and what I made? Can we share it?’ ‘Will you tell me how you feel?’
I have had my struggles with what I’ve perceived as an under-appreciation of work I’ve done. Most simply: no-one came. I didn’t sell any records. There appeared to be no interest in the project. Further on: that reviewer wrote dumb, ignorant things. Too many people said ‘hey, you’ve got a new album out!’ rather than ‘I actually heard your album, and thought/felt/experienced [this]’. The airplay I received was not in balance with the quality and distinctiveness of the work.
I try to tell myself: if you played even to one or two people who actually engaged with the work, who took the trouble to listen seriously to what you were producing, who allowed the feelings evoked to occupy their heart and their mind even for a moment, you had done something valuable. You had given, you had shared, you had exchanged.
But this preoccupation is poisonous. The will to continue is a fragile thing; furthermore it does seem true that nothing nurtures it more than an impression that people have received and valued what you have made so far. Without that, are you disposed to keep going? If a tree falls and no-one is there, is there any point to koans?
Which is where you are witness to the value of irony and the damn’ necessity of pulling the piss.
Thank you for reading.
‘before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.’ – Samuel Beckett