Every day I make some art. Sometimes I hate it, or just don't care about it. Sometimes it's really good.  I find it somewhat disturbing how much I get out of other people liking my art. And also disturbing that I find it disturbing. Why shouldn't I feel good when my efforts are validated by others? We are social animals; acceptance by the tribe is an essential brain nutrient.

I really like acting. I haven't been doing it since I moved to Toronto. But I am reminded because acting on stage gives that kind of instant acceptance/validation. I've done a little work on camera but since I honestly can't stand to see video of myself (or hear recordings of my voice) it doesn't mean much to the wee little narcissist in me. If I was to take up acting again I'd have to find those few shows where the director isn't too particular about having every line delivered every time with the exact same words.

Choir is really nice but like any kind of live performance, extremely not recommended until there's a vaccine for the pandemic. 

I'm specifically not freaking out about how it's basically September.

I guess that's it for now.

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I felt similarly when I started podcasting. I got sick of the best I could hope for, as a playwright, being a staged reading. The kind of plays I could write and get read were really limited. With audio drama, I can do a lot more, but I can’t hear the audience.
>I find it somewhat disturbing how much I get out of other people liking my art. And also disturbing that I find it disturbing.

So very much this.
Real question: what is the process by which the three of you connect the drive to produce art that is satisfying to you and pleasing to others to acceptance/validation? And what/who is it you feel is accepted or validated?

I'm just sitting here trying to dig into why I enjoy the art and craft of storytelling, either (or both) as a writer and a performer. I'm not tracking whatever connection is happening for you between ... okay, I don't even know how to articulate it, because I don't think I understand it. Ugh.

So, you feel ... guilty? or? when someone enjoying your art makes you happy? Or guilty that you feel guilty? And then annoyed for feeling either way? There seem to be a lot of loops back and forth, and they don't seem inherently connected to me. Help!

I DO understand how medium can be everything. Live storytelling and audio-only storytelling are both really good, but video storytelling completely loses me. And I definitely think it's an audience response awareness issue. If it's live, I'm in the audience, I can see the teller the whole time, hear everything; it's very immersive. And if it's audio-only, I can be completely sound-focused, so again I'm an immersed listener, able to perceive all of the available sensory input from both teller and audience the whole time. Video on the other hand, is a lot of cutting back and forth, peekaboo style. Sometimes you see the teller, sometimes the audience, sometimes you can hear one or the other better. And it's distracting and "flattening" for me. So I end up feeling bored and disconnected. So it always amazes me when people watch video of me doing storytelling and like it. Not because I don't like how I look or sound (it's fine; it's me), but because they're able to process the art in a way I can't.

Interestingly, I *don't* feel that way about cinematic experiences. I LOVE watching movies (and TV, etc.), but that's a very highly planned and orchestrated and edited kind of storytelling. I can not only enjoy the end product but simultaneously nerd out on the all of the craft employed to create it.

Anyway, rambling now.

Thank you for the food for thought.
>what is the process by which the three of you connect the drive to produce art that is satisfying to you and pleasing to others to acceptance/validation? And what/who is it you feel is accepted or validated?
I was about to smoosh into the couch with a big glass of wine, my knitting, and my tablet, to watch Logan Lucky on Amazon, because it's a dumb comedy with hot people in it and that's pretty much what I need right now. Then I thought, "write your own dumb comedy with hot people in it," and now I'm at the kitchen table with my laptop. What's the drive? Some of it is "to solve the puzzle."

I have a character who wants to do X, but comes up against Y, and in order to surmount obstacle Y and get to X, she has to do Z. I have a puzzle I need to solve. I have to solve that puzzle with the rules of a particular craft. It's not a painting, it's not a pen, it's a drama, and that's how I'm going to solve it, just like how you use a corkscrew to open wine or chopsticks to eat sushi.

One of the dearest pictures in my phone is something that won't make any sense to anyone but me. It's the audience, viewed from the back, waiting to watch the play I had showcased at the end of my MFA experience (rant redacted, but available upon request). You can't tell who anyone in the picture is except Jill (white spiky hair sticking up).

The feeling that was important to me in that moment is, "I'm about to get confirmation that my theory about human behavior is correct."

The play had a lot of overlapping dialogue in it. If my theory was correct, the overlapping dialogue would come out like a chaotic sound collage, punctuated by moments of meaning, aurally showing the protagonist's dilemma (chaos) but a situation worth saving (meaningful punctuations).
I got a whole steaming pile of "this will never work and it's not clear enough, therefore it's not worth rehearsing" from various academic sources (along with "your work hasn't merited production," rant redacted). If everyone else's theory was correct, the overlapping dialogue was garbage that didn't move the plot forward.
My advisor didn't want to do a Q&A after the show. I presented him with the idea that I wanted to ask the audience three questions, and that was it. The first question was, "what did the overlapping dialogue do for or against your experience?"
This little tiny hand reaches out of the darkness into the light.
My advisor shaded his eyes and pointed to the hand.

Shelle's son, Archer, who was, like, I don't know, 12-14 at the time, started to talk. My advisor asked him to speak up.
Archer leaned out into the light, so it was now obvious to my advisor and everyone else, that this was *a * *kid* (and fuck, a university is going to let a kid speak, if no one else, because what if he's a potential full-tuition applicant?) and Archer said, "I thought it created a fullness- a fulfilling sense of chaos." And he sat back into the darkness.

I felt SAVED.

My attempt to solve a puzzle was validated as correct.

My advisor held his frigging tongue after that.

An audience is like the wall that sound bounces off of. It's the wall a vine climbs. It's the mirror that reflects light and the prism that breaks down colors. It's what gives work structure. It's where a sound finds resonance. Artists are trying to solve the puzzles of human experience and audiences provide confirmation of our experiments. if I draw a bunch of Xs on a piece of paper and post it here and say, "does this look like a horse?" and people say, "yes," then maybe I've figured something out.

If they like it too, awesome.
That being said:
There is a lot to the solo experience of solving a puzzle without an audience. Before you're ready for others, the problem solving on your own often has its own rewards.

The guilt thing: Okay. Some of us, WASPs especially, are coached to not be braggarts and to accept praise modestly. So, if someone says, "wow, this work is good," you sort of feel like you have to say, "thanks, this is what I did when I was supposed to be making money, as God and the US of A intended." or, "I enjoyed making this, therefore it is masturbatory."

We need to learn to just say thank you, or I'm glad this meant something to you.

> I find it somewhat disturbing how much I get out of other people liking my art. And also disturbing that I find it disturbing.

Your art is not you. It is its own thing. Go home and make more.
A lot of the above is what I'd write if I had an easier time of putting the muddle in my head into works lately. But, yes, make some damn art. And it's okay if to want, or even need, an audience, to make you feel that your creation process is complete. This last part is hard for me because a lot of my art is embodied "complete" in a physical form. But if no one sees it, is it really art? Or just wanking. And why is wanking bad? And around we go again.
Sean M Puckett 8/29edited