If you’re an artist of any kind, stay dedicated to your craft. It may save a life one day, even if that life is your own. And when I say artist, I use that as a general term. It applies to more than pencil-to-paper sketching/drawing art or painters. When I say artist, I mean anyone who creates, or anyone who performs. This applies to authors, singers, dancers, actors, painters, composers, video game developers, athletes, architects, coders, you get the idea.
Now, why the dramatics at the beginning with the whole save-a-life deal, you may ask? It’s not only to grab your attention, but it’s the truth. I spoke enough politics in yesterday’s entry, so I want to go back to the usual and write about the arts, or more specifically, why we need them.
Forms of art have existed basically for as long as we humans have been on this planet, or one can assume, anyway. I’m sure even neanderthals discovered how to make rhythms or imitate birdsong, or draw on their cave walls and tell stories. We as humans need these. While they aren’t biologically necessary like food and water is, art is what makes life worth living. From the perspective of an artist, having the ability to create something that can positively impact the lives of others is what keeps us going, even if we as the artists are the ones our work impacts.
Storytelling often conveys messages that can be applied to our lives, and this is the example I would like to give you guys. There’s a character in the book I’m writing now by the name of Julie Renner. She’s a 17 year-old African-American girl with great athletic capabilities, but at the same time, that’s her emotional weakness. This isn’t made very obvious in the book since Julie isn’t the type to discuss this with her friends (nor will she ever do so), though this memory is shown in the form of a nightmare that causes her to wake up in a cold sweat. When she was in Middle School, she was going to attempt a pole vault for their track-and-field performance. In the silence of the audience, a group of teenage boys were shouting, hollering, and catcalling her, which distracted her, but she still perfected the pole vault. After the performance, those teenage boys in the audience surrounded her, started saying awful things and touching her, and, well, one thing led to another, and it doesn’t take much to know what happened next.
Up until the chapter that revealed this memory of hers, Julie was rather reserved for the most part. She had confidence in her physical abilities, but she wasn’t one for talking. But in this chapter, two of her friends that she was traveling with disappear, and when she tries to figure out what happened, a sword appears in her hand with a blade so brilliant and bright, it glowed. She feels courage and confidence that she never experienced before as the sword guides her to the place her friends were taken to, and ‘lo and behold, the adversary she faced was a demon taking the form of the boy that raped her. This is basically a literal metaphor of Julie overcoming her own demons, and once she came to terms with her past, she became stronger emotionally. She never had to discuss the memory with friends and break down; she faced her past alone, accepted it, and grew from it.
While the memory is a drastic and awful one, the message is clear. The past is unnecessary baggage. If you keep reliving it, you’ll only be held back. Accept that what happened is already done, and move forward. Accept the consequences, and you can keep moving forward, which, in turn, makes you stronger in every way. It takes a lot of work, and I should know. We all have our own demons to slay, and while we can’t make magical swords appear in our hands and gain a surge of confidence, there are always other ways. Some aren’t as good as others and can often lead down a path of addiction, which is a completely different demon altogether, but there is always something we can do to slay our demons.
It gets exhausting to keep demons at bay 24/7, but we can always turn to the arts—music, films, books, video games, whether you’re creating them or enjoying them, have the ability to heal us in ways that medicine simply can’t do. Stories, especially fiction, encourages us by presenting us with characters we can relate to and putting them in situations beyond comprehension, and more often than not, they overcome their trials. Or even if they fail, it shows that you aren’t required to win everything or to save everyone. All you’re required to do is to try your best with what you love most and if you are able to, help others along the way.
The point in all of this is that the arts are not only an escape, but a way to revitalize the soul, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re creating or enjoying—you will help someone in some way, even if that someone is yourself. So all you authors, musicians, actors, all artists in general, keep fighting the good fight. Do what you’re passionate about no matter what anyone else says. And to all you gamers, avid book readers, film buffs, and music fans, on behalf of artists everywhere, thank you, and I hope you can continue to enjoy our work.