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artistic partnership

May 29, 2014

i’m returning to this idea of romantic partnership – i’ve written about it before, most recently here. it’s a question that rises to the forefront of my brain again and again, because while i don’t sit around and think about partnership, i do, of course, sometimes think about partnership, and of the way that writers and artists partner up, if they do at all. there is something inherently solitary about the artistic profession, whether it be writing, sculpting, composing. i saw that in full force at banff, which is, i think, why i got along so well with all of the magnificent artists i met there – because they understood the need to be alone and wildly immersed in their (our) work all day, and then the need to pour it all out and get goofy at nights. there is something i always called “solitary mouthstream,” which is what happens when you’ve been alone all day and not speaking to anyone – as soon as you get in contact with others, you blurt out everything, with no mental dam there to stop anything. “i wrote 4,000 words today this cauliflower is good i want to go buy a bottle of wine tonight the toilet in my room won’t stop running did you cut your hair i’m reading this book of poems right now and it’s so good i think i need a goddamn drink.” which is when people who have spent their days interacting with other people gape at you, and when others who have not (often those of an artistic persuasion) nod and pass you a double of wild turkey.

i think this has all been brought on because the first of the men i’ve been involved with has gotten engaged, which is, i assume, always a bit of a shock. and it’s bound to keep happening, because i am on the shadier side of mid-twenties and heading toward the dirty thirty, and suddenly many of the wild, feral artistic men i was involved with, in one way or another, are now partnering up and domesticizing – on many levels, ranging from people i thought who would never even considering monogamy getting girlfriends and raving about their partnerships on social media all the way to talking about children.




magritte's "the lovers" (1928)

magritte’s “the lovers” (1928)


one of my girlfriends once said to me, in reference to someone who shattered my heart into pieces like hundreds of thousands (and how do you put that back together? you don’t. you melt it down and glass-blow it into something new): “a creative man like that needs a woman who has no creative endeavours of her own.” on its own, that statement sounds really cruel – it sounds shady – but she didn’t mean it like that, and i know what she was trying to say. it is, of course, the rare person who has no creative ambitions of their own. creativity is a human trait, and we express it in thousands of different ways, from designing a room to building a swing to writing a poem to making up a new dance move to coordinating an outfit. but what she meant was: “a man like that needs someone to bring home the bacon while he hashes out his own demons in his artistic aims.”

one of my professors once told me: “go next door to the business building and find a businessman. or an engineering student. for god’s sake, don’t date another writer.”

and all of my own involvements – dating, that awful term “torrid affairs,” whatever – with other writers, yes, and artists (musicians, filmmakers, actors) have been just that – usually torrid. the kind of relationships where it burns brightly, intensely, peaking to a magnesium-ribbon-lit sort of acme, where there is nowhere left to go but down, unlit, peter out, burn away until someone is left standing and the other is ashes, or the both of us are too singed to consider each other ever again. or i scare them away. that often happens. it’s hard to focus a writer’s intensity on a relationship and then attempt to dial it back so as not to terrify the other person. it’s hard to shift from the page to another person without either being brusque or far too involved – it’s like trying to turn your emotions down from full blast, the level they were at when you were writing (because that’s what you bloody need when you write, full attention, razor-sharp, in tune, crying over your own scenarios) and then turn to another person and turn those emotions down to a level considered “normal” by societal standards. it’s just that. and then sometimes, you turn them down far too much and you come off as blunt and detached, because somehow you spent all of your feelings already and left them behind on the page.

tsk. it’s a hard one, really.

so maybe the answer is to find an engineer – a lightning rod. someone who takes that magnesium flare and either stokes it to a slow, low burn that lasts as long as the olympic torch, or someone who takes the flare whenever it occurs, absorbs it, likes it, and waits for it to happen again. maybe the answer doesn’t lie in another creative.

who knows? updates on this to come.




One Comment leave one →
  1. May 29, 2014 2:11 pm

    Very insightful and personal, well done. This would be perfect for the last page of the Globe or into something like Walrus


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