I've written before about how a writer should/must/does approach relationships. It's not all romantic and crap like many people think after being exposed to ridiculous films and novels. Being in a relationship with a writer or artist involves all sorts of awfulness that a majority of couples only experience in small doses. The best thing that a writer/artist can do is acknowledge those issues, and then hope that the significant other can deal with it somewhat happily. Oh well. In this post I don't want to talk about relationships and blah blah blah, but only want to call up your memory of previous posts to put this one in context.
What I want to talk about here is that being a writer/artist will often mean that you confront the ugly head of Temptation more often, or at least more strongly, than most stable people. Mostly, I think, it's because writers/artists are, on average, less stable than most. I don't mean to play into a stereotype because in a strange way I don't agree with what I just said. All I mean when I say that writers/artists are less stable than most people is that, as far as I know, as a writer or artist you will go through some serious ebbs and flows in confidence, motivation, inspiration, intentionality, reflection, insight, and all the other qualities that any good writer or artist needs to operate. If any one of those qualities suffers then, in the back of your head, you will suddenly find yourself asking how worthwhile your vocation is. When you find yourself asking such an important life question, Temptation lurks around the corner.
Yes, I do mean to capitalize Temptation. In fact I debated whether I should just go with TEMPTATION. Or maybe even TEMPTATION. i CAPITALI... excuse me--I capitalize because the temptation I mean is not just the temptation to watch more TV than you should. Or to watch too many stupid, mind-numbing, stupid shows. That is a temptation to be wary of, but it is a temptation that should be indulged, perhaps, once in a while. Perhaps; depending on how often you watch that crap to begin with. No, the temptation I speak of is the type of Temptation that can ruin your life: cheating on a significant other, running around naked in downtown Boston, jumping off a bridge, or just plain giving up and hope that someone will pay for you to do nothing with the rest of your life, et cetera. We often hear, or stereotypically think of, artists of various kinds engaging in these or similar ruinous activities because, as I have said, artists will often find themselves faced with this Temptation more than most people. It makes for a tumultuous emotional/spiritual life unless you have superior willpower. And all of it is the result of losing an essential part of the artists' life: confidence, motivation, inspiration, intentionality, reflection, insight, etc. These qualities are so part of the artists life that they become the artist, and once losing one our inclination is to turn to something, anything, to recover the quality we have lost. Hence Temptation.
I have no good response to this Temptation. Even with an awareness that such Temptation can seriously screw me over, or make me feel so guilty and awful that I might as well have screwed myself over, and with a faith that tells me my God wants me to live a better life, I still often succumb to Temptation. My record against Temptation is only about .500. That may be good enough for the Seattle Seahawks to make the playoffs over the 11-5 New England Patriots in 2008, but it's really not very good at all.
I don't think, either, that such Temptation or the giving in to it makes a good artist. I think many artists and writers would be far better if they only experienced the Temptation once in a while, realized the consequences, but never gave in. It would be far better if the artist didn't undergo losses of confidence and motivation on such a regular basis that it would seem that our job is to condemn our own work. We could get a whole lot more done, then. But, inevitably, our imaginations are such that our dreams are big--for many of us, making it to the top of the world when we shoot for the stars seems like a failure. Of course, that's just my reversing an expression. If I made it to the top of the world I'd be happy, but hopefully you get my point anyway.