"The closer you come to perfection the closer to insanity you become."
Artists from every medium of expression toil most of their lives in search of the ultimate high. Past works become a stepping stone. They are a foundation for what is to come and are often torn down and rebuilt when what went wrong can now be turned right. It is rare when an artist can say "I am done" and step away from their chosen canvas. There is always more. There is always something that sits in the mind's eye that cannot yet be realized. It is an elusive something. It is the message trapped inside.
The artist as a writer has words with which to express ideas, thoughts and observations. Like a siren song the writer is drawn in, knowing the risk and yet feeling the need and the desire to release what is trapped within. The painter can express with an orgasm of color at the end of a brush. The musician wields his instrument like a lover, plying it until the sound becomes an extension of the self. Much is destroyed, cataloged and hidden away. It never sees the light. Expression of the self through art is judged by the one who creates the expression. Sometimes the greatest work ends up mingling with old fish-wrapping newspapers and broken alarm clocks in a landfill far away. We are perhaps not qualified to judge ourselves.
A cup of coffee and a pack of cigarettes are his companions through the darkest days of blurred vision. He forgets to eat breakfast. Lunch is considered but it will have to wait. Only when he cannot push aside hunger any longer will he find a crust of bread and a can of soup. It is beginning to snow outside. The day is almost through and the words are failing to dance upon the canvas. They are still just words. They have not yet become what he has foreseen in the dreams that walk in his waking mind.
The bloody slaughter of the children begins. Page after page of words he reads and discards. The words they are his children and to destroy them he must be certain. There is no magic here. The words are too hollow. He compares his work to the back of a cereal box and laments the loss of breakfast from the day's plan. It was once his favorite meal but he can no longer grant time for it. His mind is sharpest in the morning now and as the sun goes down he knows that there is not much time to salvage this day. There must be something in what he has created that can be saved. There must be something on which he can build. Slowly he pulls the sheets of crumpled paper out of the trash can and looks at them again. There was something here. There was a vision, but it was a faint light in the darkness of the empty words. This will be a long night but he finds inspiration suddenly and the siren song begins again. The children have been slaughtered but the creator has new life. He feeds off their sacrifice and builds with renewed vigor.
The night goes on forever. The darkest hour comes just before the dawn, but it is in this hour that it all becomes clear. He types faster than he knew he was capable of, feeling the full grasp of the muse around his neck. She will surely strangle him and leave him for dead if he does not ride the crest of the wave she has given him. It is a very good ride. Something is created although he does not yet know what it is. It is a piece of the puzzle. It is powerful and it is real. These words dance upon the canvas and they sing to him. This is the stuff dreams are made of.
He knows he can do no more. The mind is awake but the body can give him no more. He has struggled with perfection for twenty-four hours and has come just a few steps closer. It is a victory of sorts and he can smile in that knowledge. A new day is dawning upon a fresh blanket of snow. This beauty will not last, he knows, and so he takes a picture of it in his mind. He will need this one day. He will need to feed off this beauty because one cannot describe ugliness without it. Beauty knows too many forms and one of them is its antecedent.