Where no truth can be found, the philosopher must proclaim it; and where there is no beauty, the artist must create it.
A title must emerge from the content of a work, and therefore all my titles are working titles until the piece is complete—however, even then, it may change to better represent it. Whilst a title performs a number of functions, I consider its power to define and provide context the most significant—and therefore adopt this approach.
The shorter the poem, the more significant its every word. Several months after “completing” “Sunbird!”, one of the earliest poems for the collection I am working on, I believe I have at last decided on the final version of its four-word opening line!
It is a very reassuring thing when one returns to a poem, months later, still finding it as pleasing as the moment that inspired it.
I watch a magnificent whale in the waves and am moved only intellectually: This is wonderful, I think calmly—almost indifferently; but confronted with a simple wild flower on an unassuming mountain slope, I am overcome with emotion: This is too beautiful to endure, I exclaim!
Allow me to revisit “A New Chapter” as I try to make sense of the situation into which I have launched myself, following my disillusion with social media1. It is my goal here to consolidate my view on the matter with the benefit of a calmer, more collected and objective state of mind.
My cause is Romantic—the adoration of nature through Art (music and poetry, in my case)—but this project did not begin with so grand an ideal. It started as a creative resolution to an emotional struggle, evolving into the artistic endeavour it is today. In this new form, it took on a life of its own, generating the inevitable extensions of a modern day project—a brand, website, social media presence, and other requisite additions—into which, in an attempt to present something valuable, I invested as much attention as I did in the project proper.
At the end of 2018, I summarised this manifestation of the project in the following paragraphs from “This December”2:
Therefore, in the year to come, I shall continue to post to social media and write monthly digests3 on this blog. It is of great benefit to me to reflect periodically upon my work and the essays allow me to do just that: to consolidate my ideas, discuss my process, evaluate what I create and document my progress—in fine, to diarise my artistic endeavours. Whether this has any value to a reader, I do not know—the kind of person who takes an interest in my work is unlikely to be forthcoming on the subject—but I must proceed regardless.
I take great care to produce what is meaningful to others: whether inspirations, ideas or the results of these. Were I to fail in this quest, nothing would displease me more. That notwithstanding, the goal of this project remains unchanged. It is still an expression of everything I have come to value and a task I find deeply fulfilling. Its purpose is not to generate wealth, accolades or fame, but something nobler: to celebrate Beauty. And what better way to celebrate than with others?
At this time, I also joined crowdfunding platform SubscribeStar4, outlining my motivations in “This February”5 thus:
I am delighted to share that I have joined SubscribeStar, a platform enabling one to support a creator through a subscription. My reasons for doing so are to create an opportunity to support what I do, and to establish a space where I may experiment with ideas. Whether on matters philosophical, sacred or secular—in the form of essays, musical and poetic sketches or photography—it shall be my studio; a creative laboratory, if you will.
The artistic process is complex; the thinking of the artist obscure. On SubscribeStar, I shall clarify my process and thinking in the company of sympathetic minds with whom I hope to deliberate. I shall treat it also as a journal wherein I may share the updates, observations and discoveries hitherto contained in the monthly digests.
It all seemed to me a logical progression, and I was, all things considered, confident about the direction.
I would subsequently learn that in my fundamental premise I was misguided: no one valued my contributions—at least, not sufficiently to move them to support me in this way. This brought me to an impasse, one I resolved by terminating my social media accounts and adopting, in effect, my blog and SubscribeStar as their replacements. The latter, however, created another conflict that also needed attention.
I had to admit that in my case, SubscribeStar was not a workable idea. Firstly, my artist cycle is not suited to a monthly subscription model. Periods between my releases are too long. For example, the poetry collection I am working on at the moment will not be realised for another year—and even then, a one-time donation would be the most logical approach to fundraising for its production6, rather than a monthly subscription.
Secondly, SubscribeStar required me to devise rewards for subscription tiers. Given what I have just explained, I had only content typically reserved for my blog to offer. However, in placing this content behind a paywall, I encountered a circumstance at odds with my primary reasons for being online—that is, to provide insight into my artistic philosophy and to abate some of the isolation one feels in the artistic process. How then do I make restricted what I require to be public? There seemed to me no solution to this dilemma that was not also deeply contradicting.
It was, therefore, only logical to conclude that I must also abandon SubscribeStar along with social media, ceasing there all activity and concentrating instead on my blog. To this end then, I have moved all the SubscribeStar paywall content to the blog and made it public under a new category titled SubscribeStar7. The “Artist Questions”8 series I started on SubscribeStar, I shall continue on the blog9, as well as the periodic screen-share livestreams while I work.
Over the past three years, I have put much time, care and effort into my social media accounts and it would be senseless, I think, to remove them (and indeed SubscribeStar) entirely. I had considered reconstructing the timelines on my website, but this to me is equally senseless, whilst the platforms themselves exist. I leave them, therefore, as they are10. At the very least, they have value as an archive of the development of this project on the platforms in question.
Having made sense of this situation then, I proceed untroubled with what is important in life, with or without followers, namely Art.
- “A New Chapter” outlines my initial reaction.
- “This December”
- The “This Month” posts were a series of monthly digests started in January 2018 and ending in February 2019.
- Forgotten Fields on SubscribeStar.
- “This February”
- Something I would almost certainly do privately, if the response of my followers is an indication of their interest in my work. I shall not entertain here the possibility that my work is of no interest to them at all, for it begs the question—one I cannot meaningfully answer: why follow me at all?
- SubscribeStar Blog Category
- A series in which I answered (and shall continue to answer) art-related questions.
- Though with less frequency, as my priority shall be the completion of the poetry publication.
- Forgotten Fields on Facebook and Twitter.
There is something deeply satisfying about a footnote: the reassurance of thoroughness.
I find that with age, I better understand my motivations in life (and by extension, art). Reactions that would once have been inexplicable to me, I now comprehend.
There is nothing in life quite so sweet as clarity.