Remember when you were like, ten, and someone asked you, all loud and patronizing-like, the way we do--as though all kids are dim bulbs, or deaf, or possibly Hungarian--what you wanted to be when you grew up?
What did you answer?
I used to say that I wanted to be a Graphic Artist, or else a Fine Artist (once I learned the difference). I figured I would probably paint for museums but also sometimes for the cover of books, as several of my small hard bound horse books (Black Beauty, Sea Star, Man-O-War) had lovely oil paintings of magnificent steeds. One of my first great works was of a unicorn and pegasus, it was a wedding present for a friend's parents. There were going to be plenty more where that came from, though I had no intention of limiting myself to horses. I also planned to dabble in fashion illustration, ideally for Sears catalog, and maybe paint watercolor greeting cards as well, to--you know--pay the bills.
My career choice never wavered. In high school, though I had great grades, awesome test scores, and won a national writing contest--in fact, a major award, I stubbornly insisted that I needed to go to ART school. Not a regular college where I could get a general degree (which just drips with regular ordinariness) and major in art. No, art school, and get an art degree.
I had no plan for after that. I figured that starving artists just starved and made art after school. ("Be an artist! Make $50-100 a week!) I guessed I would work at record stores, which was at least cool and didn't require touching other people's food- and spit-encrusted dishes until I started having so many gallery openings that a day job became unnecessary.
This was the closest thing to a plan that I had. Unfortunately, art school sucked most of the fun out of art for me. It felt like I was there to learn how to sell my art, not make it. And to sell it, I needed to learn how to apply a bunch of bullshit terminology to it, like post-modern aesthetic juxtaposition or contextual asymmetrical pastiche. I wasn't interested in that. That isn't what I meant at all.
But after art left, I had nothing. There was no fall-back plan. Everything after that became a failure, not of my talent or abilities, but of my passion.
That's all I have to say about that tonight. I did write a bit on the glacier essay. I am trying the approach of writing a really boring and dumb account of my trip to Alaska and the unhappy relationship I was escaping when I took it--at least I'm getting something on paper.
alychiphobia: fear of failure