To Be An Artist


“So you want to be an artist”, my father said, “Or at least an entertainer”. “What’s the difference” I replied, and he said,” An entertainer helps people forget their circumstances, but an artist wants to remind them of the truth: of where they are. ” “That must be a good thing”, I said, “Telling them where they are, but with a dash of hope”. “It might be a good thing”, he replied ” But do people really want to know? Knowing too much is a burden few men can carry”.

I played at nonchalance but my performance was unconvincing. And when I tried to be profound, I kept forgetting my lines, so I was left a man who nodded at strangers in the park or dreamt of hands joined in union across the dinner table.

I realised, over a period of time, that to be an artist is often to be driven out of society by your own anxiety: to seek for answers where no one else has looked, or even worse, where everyone has looked and you find out, somewhere after youth, that you’ve been wasting your time and would have been happier working in a bakery. The lines you wrote when young come back to haunt you.

” Was he the footballer with the photograph of fame. The writer with a frozen hand. The average tragedy of second rate…Who dared to hope and stayed to pay the cost……Who gambled all open a dream and lost ?”

Is there anything worse than wandering off into the wilderness in search of truth, and finding out the truth is wilderness. Finding a purpose became part of the daily grind, one step ahead of just wishing to survive: a harsh journey marked by the development of good manners and the quest for a paying occupation. The one constant was uncertainty, surviving on the edge of shelter, becoming an unexplained presence at the railway station.

So here I was at last, hunched up in a coat given by some charity, and huddled with some others round a small fire, sipping tea supplied by a group of nuns. “What did you want to be when you were young?” the small man asked, he was surprisingly civilised, “Rich” I said, and we laughed. I didn’t like to admit to the art thing anymore

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in Art, character, creative writing, Fiction, Humanity, Peter Wells, Talent, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to To Be An Artist

  1. Wow! Wow! Wow! I can so relate to this story. On so many levels…

    Thank you, Peter, for expressing the inexpressible so eloquently for me! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful observations, eloquently written. I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. RJ Walters says:

    I love the phrase “Knowing too much is a burden few men can carry”. Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Al says:

    Don’t know how you developed the ability to zero in on man’s foibles so incisively, but you are a master surgeon with the ink and quill.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. S U P E R B.

    The Artist’s life isn’t about money…
    It’s about “finding yourself.”

    xxx from Duluth.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well penned Peter. The truth and feelings of many. Loved it. ☺☺

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How about happy? Ha, ha. Beautiful as always Peter.

    Like

  8. But it is still our dream, even if we choose not to admit it.

    Like

  9. ksbeth says:

    very nice piece, peter. and i do think an artist is an entertainer, offering the person taking it in a ticket to wherever their piece takes them. it may have an emotional price they’re not willing to pay however –

    Like

  10. Sue Vincent says:

    Beautifully and poignantly penned.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Brilliantly moving, as always!

    Like

  12. Poignant. Especially love the sentence:
    “I realised, over a period of time, that to be an artist is often to be driven out of society by your own anxiety”
    Thank you:)

    Like

  13. There’s a lot of truth to what you are writing here, Peter. For writers, it might be the difference between writing literary (important) fiction and commercial fiction. Hmm…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Loved how you have expressed the feelings here… you can actually live them while reading. I read few of your other works too… they are beautiful. 🙂 Keep writing !

    Liked by 1 person

  15. J says:

    Oo, I love this piece. I especially like the ending when he says he doesn’t talk about that anymore. There are days when my greatest fear is something will come along to kill my dreams for good. But I’ve got a good few monsters in the cupboard ready to go to war for those dreams. My money is on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. nelle says:

    Oh hell, this was so insightful in and of itself, even absent the context of the story. Nice read!

    Like

  17. Very nice. As Albert Camus wrote: “Il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux” / ‘we have to believe Sisyphus was happy.’

    Like

  18. “Knowing too much is a burden few men can carry” … sometimes just “knowing” is a burden. “Remembering” is worse. Ah..

    Like

  19. Jingga says:

    I love this! It somehow surprises me how I can relate to this piece on so many level. Very nice and briliantly-written, Peter!

    (The last line is so true yet annoying. As I will soon come to my 20s, I find myself forgetting “the art” and seeking for what, a richer life? Hahaha.)

    Like

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