Have you read Patti Smith’s 2010 memoir, Just Kids?
If not, come by and pluck it from my bookshelf— I keep an extra copy around for visitors who haven’t read it. (The same goes for Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love, but let’s talk about that one another time.)
So, what’s the big deal about Just Kids? It’s a love letter to Robert Mapplethorpe— but also to herself as she writes with raw abandon the story of their artistic beginnings: of moving to New York, of youth, of self discovery, of authenticity, of love, of friendship, of being just kids.
Beginnings. What do you call creative? To me, the true mark of an artist is someone who savors the beginnings. Who doesn’t love the beginnings? You’ve got nothing to prove, there’s no comparing yourself to others, you’re just exploring the unknown. You’re living for the creative process, the “blank canvas,” so to speak. But, also in those beginning stages, and in order to create freely, you’re not trying to ward off a society that tends to be “results driven,” because you don’t know about that yet. And when you don’t know about it, you’re free to create something real.
Self Discovery. Self discovery is a happenstance of creating art. During this process, you’re gaining insight into your strengths— you’re creating with emotion. But still… you overthink, you edit, and then eventually it becomes yours— and with time and dedication you unearth your potential, your voice grows, and you throw away your uncertainty.
Authenticity. You’re not aiming to please and you’re not creating for the masses— you’re creating for yourself, you’re proud, and you know sooner or later you’ll find your following.
It’s been decades since I thought of my own artistic beginnings in this way— but why? Who says my artistic beginnings aren’t still beginnings?
Isn’t that what this blog is? The great unknown— unknown, sure. But, it’s also a place to be myself. To experience newness. To be authentic.
So, what do I hope to offer to you as the reader? In my first post, “Hello It’s Me,” I had no idea.
But now… now I know.
My aim is true.
Happy 73rd Birthday, Patti Smith.
*Did you notice the excessive use of the words “you,” “your,” and “you’re” in this post? That was intentional— Hear your own voice first. Pay attention to what drives you and no one else.