Artists are censored by reality

From snakes and ladders to serpents and forbidden fruit, Neuro is back with another invaluable guide to life in or out of the big smoke.

It’s your creation, isn’t it? You’ve spent hours choosing those colours, those letters, that typeface. You spent fifteen minutes hyphenating that one word. You spent seventy minutes deciding whether to centre the headline or align it left, and should it be in bold? Or italics? You spend weeks getting it perfect, then you take it to the print shop and you discover that they don’t have a PC. Your carefully chosen typefaces disappear in a moment. Those considerately placed headlines look crap. Everything you worked towards just went down the pan.

But face it, you’re not the first to experience that one. Remember god? He had his blueprint and everything. He had it all worked out. Every detail, but he hadn’t reckoned on bloody humans screwing it up for him. He said, “I’ll just pop out for a second, leave them to it; they’ll be fine.” Yeah, well, you know what they say, don’t you? They say you learn from your mistakes. The first lesson of creativity: do it yourself, do it all yourself.

I mean, take god again. You’ve made the stars and the heavens, the sky and the sea. You’ve put animals all over the place and trees and pretty little flowers. So why, oh, why, do you take a rest at the end of creating something so new? I mean, it was unheard of before. You’ve just created the universe, for crying out loud. Imagine that as a concept. There you were with nothing, and suddenly you’ve just made everything! But you take a rest? Every artist knows that you never finish your creation. Sleepless nights, you’re wondering, “Was I right to make that character say that?” Always wondering, always looking back, always re-reading, rewriting, re-drawing, re-sculpting. Never a day of rest. Let it settle for a while and then have your rest.

But, talking of god, you shouldn’t knock him. He’s a good bloke. Can’t fault him. He wasn’t to know that humankind would do exactly the opposite of what he told them to do. He may have created the universe, but do you really think he’d invent reverse-psycology? You can imagine it, can’t you? “Hm, let me see, how on Earth am I going to stop everyone just floating off into space? Ah, I know, I shall create gravity. Hm, da, da, dah, one line there, another there, a big, whopping great molten core and we’re sorted. Yep. That’s great. Now, what else do we need? Time? Well, why not? Time, there we go. Anything else? Hm? Oh, how about… how about… I don’t know. Why don’t I, er, just create photosynthesis. Yep. What do I need? Just a minute. Da, da, da, what have I here? Shall I go and… oh no, here we are. This’ll do fine. A bit of chlorophyll, a bit of sunlight, bit of water. Hm, I might as well invent stomal pores while I’m at it. Help the old transpiration and all that. Okay, what now? I’ve done my laws of thermodynamics. Those north-east trade winds. What else? I’ve done the gravity business. I’ve made skunkupines really smelly. I’ve done my homoeostasis thing, and I’ve created the ozone layer. I’m quite happy really, but I’m sure there must be something else I can do. OH, I know. Reverse-psycology. That’s the one. There we are. Finished. Just let me hoover up and we’ll be fine.”

Nope. god’s not going to say one thing, when really he means the complete opposite, is he? Please don’t murder, means kill six days a week and rest on the Sabbath. Hm, I don’t think so somehow. god, I always thought, was a misunderstood artist. He knew what he wanted, and he said what he thought, but everyone just said he was too conservative. He should let his hair down more, they said. They doubted his honesty, and assumed that he was just, somehow, putting himself down, when he said, “Don’t eat the forbidden fruit, damn it.”

Artists know how he feels. Like your first novel; that one full of hideous naivety and grammar so infantile that it makes you cringe when you read it again, two years later. You’ve insisted that it’s horrible and you hate it and you want to rewrite it because it’s so terrible, but everyone says you’re just being modest. Hell, no. If you were any more honest, you’d be sitting in a jar labelled, “The Truth”. When an artist tells you that he’s unhappy with his work, he’s not looking for pity and praise. Musicians, writers, painters and creators; they’re never happy with their work, until someone else screws it up. When reality censors your creation, you know that the moment before was its perfect form. Now, there’s no going back. You just sit on your stool and cry.

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