Spark plugs

The inspiration HITS. You try to get up, but after a moment, you find yourself on the ground still.

The grammar of now versus then. I wanted to tell the whole story to the crowd—start to finish—but there didn’t seem to be away to express an expanse of time that didn’t go just back then forward, but also up and down and this way and that way. An editor would cut it all out.

But recently, I read an interview with this artist. She said that an editor ought to be there to make it easier for you to do what you set out to do, not to impinge on it. I went to a school where professors with awards (the good ones; not the silly ones) told us that the editor was always superior to us. We were just people with feelings and we didn’t understand audience! The editor is the adult in the room and people need adults to set the tough but fair standards of good art. This made sense to me—I had read the New Yorker.

But this artist, in the interview, called this all bullshit. Let the feelings do the talking. Is it a grammatical mistake or is it a choice? Ask the artist—the answer could be, “Yes.” Did you like that bit but not the other bit? Tough shit, the artist likes both bits, that’s why they’re in there. Will no one read this book except a few fanatics? Great!!! If anyone is fanatical about my work then get them this thing that they have not found elsewhere. Get it to them without delay.

This makes sense to me. I read, recently, also, that not even Tilda Swinton likes the concept of commercial viability. And everybody knows her. She was in Michael Clayton. If Tilda Swinton and Cate Blanchett don’t want to be commercially viable, but they are, and if Viola Davis does want to be commercially viable, and is, but has had to fight for it, then what am I supposed to say? All my black role models who are not commercially viable are in the art world, which is depressing and funny—so good. I cannot go to Broadway and find them, like with Glenda Jackson. It’s ok because while I cannot afford Broadway, which is depressing and unfunny, I can afford a free art opening with free middle-of-the-road wine for $5.50 subway round trip. I can afford $20 entry plus donation to any old theater because I feel good about the cause. But if I scrounge up $160 for Broadway, can I be sure that 42nd Street Theater will not turn around and give my Glenda money to, say, Andrew Garfield, because that’s what the audience wants???

I don’t know how it works. Apparently my professors did and that’s how they’re professors. All in the ugliest outfits. That’s the worst fate to befall anyone with notions about ART. No sense of dress. Every inch of the prose edited, but the outfit, unconsidered.

I thought about this, all my successful teachers, wearing horrible shoes and jackets, and carefully combed-through books of subordinate feeling, and something really hit me.