Thursday, February 07, 2019

On Becoming an Artist

Fortunately, very few children want to be artists or writers when they grow up.  That is something which - with the odd repellent exception - one simply ends up becoming or turns out to be.  Even though I enjoyed reading as a child, I think the last thing I would have said in response to the classic question was “a novelist.”  A pirate, a footballer, an archaeologist (yes, long before Indiana Jones), a bandit, a lion-tamer, even perhaps, in an attack of folly, a doctor…I’ve no idea what children nowadays would like to be when they grow up, but I’m sure they don’t aspire to devoting their lives to literature, painting or “serious” music.  Just as well, because, as I did fifty years ago, they would find it hard to identify with artists as they’re represented in films and, indeed, books, and they certainly wouldn’t want to emulate them.  The most worrying thing for those of us who have turned out to be novelists or poets or sculptors or painters or musicians is that not even as adults have we seen much reason to admire our predecessors as people.
     - Javier Marías, “Damned Artists!”  (2008)

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