You’re an artist. It’s not your job to be happy all the time. It’s not your job to feel safe and comfortable.
It’s your job to feel full of joy, when joy comes through, and to let joy empty out of you when it decides it’s time to leave. Then it’s your job to be full of sadness, or to be full of rage, or to be full of whatever else comes next, and to be empty again when that thing leaves too.
It’s not your job to sell things. It’s your job to write down the truth and make sure other people see it. It’s your job to keep yourself alive long enough for the word to get out. Even if someone hires you to lie, it’s your job to infect their work with the truth.
It’s not your job to live in poverty. It’s your job to live honestly—to show off how lonely and doomed and wretched you are without faking any of it. Playing it up is just another form of hiding it. We’re all lonely star trash already; there’s no need to embellish.
Your job is not to create beauty. Your job is to find beauty and pull it out of the wreckage so the rest of us can see it.
Your job is not to point into the darkness just to prove you can see in the dark. Everyone else can too. You aren’t that special.
Speaking of: your job is not to be special. Your job is to be weird. Your job is to be gentle and kind, and in so doing, violate the world we live in.
This is not the best of all possible worlds. This is all worlds, colliding all together, like countless human skulls cracking against each other and mixing a cosmos out of their liquified brain matter.
Your job is not to be loud. Your job is to be subtle. Anyone who tells you that subtlety can’t survive is a crook and a hypocrite. They use subtlety themselves to pull off their cons. Don’t listen to them.
Your job is sweetness, but not sugar sweetness. Your job is Mother Nature’s sweetness, the hot taste of life and the paw that can just as easily thrash as it can caress.
Your job is not to help butterflies out of their cocoons. Your job is to be the butterfly, and to be the cocoon it sheds, and to be the person watching, and to be the butterfly’s death, and to be the person’s arrogance, and to be the person’s marginally longer life, and to then be the person’s death too.
You can’t tell the truth if you don’t embody each of those things. It’s up to you which ones you mention in the work.
It’s not your job to make sense. It’s your job to be true. The truth doesn’t make sense, so if your work makes sense, you’re lying.
It’s your job to work. It’s your job to craft. You never create anything that isn’t there already. What matters is the attention you bring to it, and the fact that you care about the details.
It’s not your job to fall in love. It’s your job to be love. This means giving up on all the fake definitions of love. This means letting love include as much cruelty as tenderness, as much jealousy as faith, and as much loneliness as companionship.
It’s not your job to end this post with a self-deprecating nod to yourself, Sean. It’s your job to end it openly, so the reader can implicate or exonerate herself as much as she likes.
So get to work.