For more than three months this year I wrote nothing. In the middle of a film script and a new book, I just stopped. It wasn’t writer’s block… not that I’d recognize writer’s block. I’ve never sat down to write and had nothing spill onto the page or the screen. It was health. And on and on it went until one day I awoke without fretting that I would not write that day. I awoke to find myself thinking of other things I might do. I woke without obsession or guilt. And from this, I realized I am NOT what I do. It was a wonderful thought. I am what I am whatever I’m doing and I don’t need to DO something or BE something to be me. I have value solely in my being.
Having spent so many years not knowing that, I suffered. If no one read my books, who was I? If I didn’t write my books, who was I? My answer—until I stopped writing—was no one.
As I’ve already written somewhere, the writer Philip Roth said “real” writers don’t get read. He said entertainers get read. What he meant by “real” was the artist. What he meant by entertainers wasn’t a criticism, simply a fact. He had no problem with those who sold books by the train load. He understood the human desire to be entertained. He understood that entertainers are more than useful, they’re vital. And they like getting paid for it. Who doesn’t? He also meant that the artist is not always an entertainer. (Although some are. There are artists who sell. A wondrous feat.) Artists of all stripes make things that might be difficult. They make things that often cause unease. Artists are truth tellers. Artists open doors. Many people who love to read entertainers don’t like being shown open doors. Fine with me.
I don’t know if I’m an artist. I don’t know if what I write entertains. From certain reviews I’m neither. From other reviews I’m both. But I no longer care. I’m back writing again. But I’m free from the nagging thought that it matters if I do or I don’t. Now I’m just a kid playing with my favorite toy.
I’m not a writer or an artist. I’m Ki. And I make things. That’s all.