What's the point?

Randall Anthony Schanze
Randall Anthony Schanze's picture

I've been asked/volunteered to contribute an article to good ol' Republibot once a week; a committment that I honestly haven't been very good about. Today...well, I was going to say, "Today I'm gonna do blah blah blah," but then I realized I honestly know what I'm gonna talk about. I'm just plopping myself down at the keys, and let's see where all this leads.

I always get despondent after I've done something creative. For instance, yesterday I posted a kinda' neat little music video on Youtube for one of my kid's songs. It took me a week to put it together using the primitive equipment I've got on hand, and it was a fair amount of work. (Synching stuff up was hard!) Still, it's fairly neat.

Reaction? None. 

And then there was the song the week before that. Reaction? None.

Prior to that I posted a shitty play I was in back in college. Reaction? None. I'm in contact with the actress in the thing, and I don't even think she bothered to watch it. 

The week before that I posted me reading one of my original stories. Reaction? None. 

Prior to that I did a shitty version of an ELO song. Reaction? None.

Well, that last one isn't entirely true. A friend of mine in Germany said he liked the bow at the end.

The point remains, however, that nothing I do on Youtube attracts any attention. Couple this with the facts that nobody buys my books (Under either of my pseudonyms) and that I've been blogging myself silly on Kevin_Long.com (Now defunct) and my current site for like two years at this point and it's hard not to feel like I'm beating my head against a wall. Very hard. In an empty room. In an abandoned building. Where no one could hear it. Or care.

So it's not surprising that on Monday I excitedly post whatever my newest waste of time is, and on Tuesday I have the post-coital depression of nobody even looking, and there's not even a $20 wadded up on the counter. Hell, I'd kill for that $20! That'd mean I'm getting paid, at least a little bit! Right now I'm just giving it away for free. The thing that separates me from being a whore is basically that whores have more financial sense than me.

What does all this mean? Am I quitting Republibot again? No. Am I going to stop writing? No. Am I going to stop recording my shitty little songs? No. Am I going to stop blogging or making dumb videos? No. Am I doing it all for me, anyway? No.

The last is a little surprising. I've always said that a writer writes because a writer can't *NOT* write, and whether or not anyone is reading it doesn't matter. You're doing it for yourself, and anything beyond that is gravy. 

Welllllll...that's sorta true but that brings us back to the whore with no business sense, right? As I get older, I find I want an audience. Doesn't have to be a huge one. Doesn't have to be a lucrative one. Just an audience. A story wants to be heard, so does a song. A sculpture wants to be looked at. A creative person - I won't call myself an 'artist' because I'm not, but I am damn creative - likes to be patted on the head every so often, and told their stuff is worthy of note in the same way that you brag to your neighbors about something your three year old did. I've always said the doing is its own reward, but as I get older I begin to realize that every work of creation is also basically yelling "I exist." You want someone to notice that you exist, right? Now, a lot of people I know who are in the biz of creating art that no one asked for in the first place...well...a lot of them are posers. They're people who say - and I'm quoting here - "I'll only write if I get a contract up front." Yeah, that's precious, Skippy. That's not the way it works. Not the way it's ever worked. Mark Twain didn't get contracts when he was a nobody working in a cheese shop, and neither do you. Or me. Or, hell, John Scalzi. Success has as much to do with marketing yourself - which I'm terrible at - as it does with talent. You have to invent a way to put yourself out there, and then, likely as not, you'll fail. The world is full of SF authors who got one or two books published, and then just faded away. Some of them were even good. The world is also full of people (Like me) who think (Thought) that if you do a good job and work hard, the world will find you.

Eh. Maybe. I'm pretty definite at this point that it won't find me.

So why do I continue to do it? 

Well, I do *Like* doing it. Prepare to roll your eyes: As Nietzsche observed [Ok, you can stop rolling them now] the act of creating art - something that has no purpose other than To Be, is the one time in our lives when we're not just responding to outside stimuli, we're actually creating stimuli that will affect others. Put it a different way: creation is the one time you're free, the one time you become more than the sum of your parts, more than someone who just gets pushed around by TV and the radio. Nietzsche is right: it's a hell of a rush. I like that feeling. I'd like it more if anyone noticed, but I do like it just the same.  Beyond that: Optomism, largely. Maybe the next one will get it, you know? If I keep throwing enough stuff out there, and it's good, then it's more likely people will step in it, and track it back home, and other people will say "What the hell is that shit on your shoe?" And then they'll say, "That's not shit, that's Mahatma Randy!"

I don't have any rock star dreams, you know? I'd be content just to be a well-liked bar band.