Narcissistic much? you might say. Yeah. I take photos of myself now. Then post them on Instagram. And Facebook. I won't post them here, though. Well, ok, maybe just this one...
Just starin' at my reflection y'all
As a playwright, I'm mainly concerned with myself and getting my shows produced so throngs of people can adore me and tell me how talented I am. As an artist, cultivating self-love feels like a waste of time. If I'm not torturing myself with constant self-criticism, what will I write about?
You must keep yourself apart from life, apart from the crowd, so you can mock it, even though you secretly want to be a part of it, and think there's something intrinsically wrong with you because you're an outsider, even though being an outsider gives you a false sense of uniqueness which you consider a sign that you were meant to be a great artist, an artist like no other that ever existed in the whole history of humankind.
The irony is that every creative person, on some level, thinks this way. So you've got a shitload of people thinking they're the greatest thing since sliced bread. Hence, the clash of egos. Not that this doesn't happen in other professions, but it feels especially true for the performing arts.
So, you've got a whole swath of the general population caught in the grips of crippling insecurity, wanting to be noticed, to be "heard", to express their "vision" with the ultimate goal of public adoration, of validation outside the self, of their very existence.
Some artists know from the start that this is their lot in life and embrace it. Others, like me, know early on, are terrified, try to deny it and "fit in" with mainstream society and all its expectations, fail, are miserable, get treated for depression and other anxiety-based conditions, realize they've abandoned themselves, have an "A-ha!" moment, and decide to come back to what they love and make a go of it.
Then comes the rejection. Ah yes, the instances of repeated rejection. Not just once, but many, many times, which seems to go against every fiber of the artist's being. Where is the idolatry and the free swag?
Now, I could say what happens after this, if one truly believes in oneself and stays the course, but it sounds so corny, like something out of an after school special, that I just can't do it.
Suffice it to say, good shit happens.
Of course, once you've reached the pinnacle of success, you must be thrown into the cycle of suffering once again. Otherwise, where will your next masterpiece come from? It's not like you can write about rainbows and unicorns.