I first came across McNair Wilson’s blog a few years ago, one dark and stormy night…
I drove home after a day of truly dismal rehearsals, gloomy because the director was down with the flu, and the company showed little inclination to mind the assistant director – that being my little, raw, inexperienced self. As a result, things weren’t going terribly well. Add that the seamstress was late with the costumes, and the one electrician a pain in the neck, and you’ll see why I was gloomy about the impending disaster…
And besides, my current writing wasn’t going well at all, and that particular day I hadn’t managed a single word.
Gloom, doom and despair.
So I arrived home in the rain, and made myself a cup of Earl Grey, and sat at my computer to check the mail. And found a message from an American friend, enthusing about the blog of McNair Wilson – one of those hard-to-define people, writer, playwright, actor, director, Disney imagineer and whatnot.
“Plus, he drinks Earl Grey,” Ella concluded, to cinch her argument. “You must, must, must read his blog.”
And why not, I thought, and followed Ella’s link to Tea With McNair. And the first thing I saw was a disclaimer, announcing that the author was going to gradually discontinue the blog.
There, I thought. Goes with the rest of the darn day…
Then I noticed that he was still posting, after all (and still is) and anyway there were all the older posts. I began to hop about, reading here and there, and liking what I saw. And then I found this:
It’s supposed to be hard. It’s art.
True, true, true! And not just about my awful rehearsals. Who said it has to be easy? It doesn’t have to – why, it shouldn’t be easy. If it were easy, if it just happened, if it didn’t entail hard work, and thought, and discipline, then it wouldn’t be hard. If it didn’t make one ask so much of oneself and others, if it weren’t and endless research, if it didn’t throw one out of bed in the dead of night to jot down yet another idea, if one could settle for less, if it weren’t the quest of a life, then it wouldn’t be art. If it never created argument and conflict, if it didn’t have to be defended with tooth and claw occasionally, if it didn’t call for small miracles of diplomacy, manipulation, and patience, then it wouldn’t be art.
No matter what it is – writing, playing, composing, directing, painting – it can never, should never, must never be a piece of cake. It’s a gory battle, and impassioned, and hard, and splendid. It is supposed to be hard: it’s art.
Davide Mana said:
It’s supposed to be hard but not so hard it hurts – not always, not all the time.
Effort should not be torture.
Hard should be fun, anyway – like any human enterprise, one should be exhilarated by the difficulty, not crushed by it.
(this is where schools so often fail – in teaching children that a challenging problem is not a punishment, but a game, and should be faced as such).
The artist in pain is someone that has made some wrong choice – just like an athlete, or a musician, if your movements, in doing what you are doing, cause you pain, you are using the wrong muscles, and should see a trainer, or a doctor.
As for it being art, I don’t know.
Art is an abused word.
But it must not hurt, and it must not make you unhappy – not 24/7.
Personal opinion, of course – but I’m a hack, not an artist.
la Clarina said:
No, I agree, it must not hurt – no more than other good and beautiful things that can occasionally go pear-shaped. But what I mean is, it can’t be all fun and game, either – and therefore to be cast aside the moment it’s not unblemished fun anymore. It should be clear that challenges, seeming disasters, bouts of fury and a lot of hard work are part of the game. On a stage, it also take a special effort to combine different sets of challenges, disasters, bouts of fury and hard work – but this is another matter.
Still, I mantain it can’t be easy. Stimulating, challegning, exhilarating, engrossing – and a lot of fun – yes. But, let us put it another way: who said that fun equals easy?
As for being art, you’ll have noticed that no capitals were used. No Art, thank you very much. Just a word used in the classical sense, to indicate a certain kind of pursuits.
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Davide Mana said:
And I never said fun equals easy – easy soon turns into boring, if you can’t add variety.