How to Be an Anti-Muse

ARTIST’S NOTE: So it looks like I still have some venom I need to squeeze out of system before I can get back to our regularly scheduled program. I like giving writing advice, but sometimes when I look at the state of things in online artistic arenas I want to burn it all down. I realize I owe my readers a debt of sincerity, but if you allow me one more sarcastic tantrum I promise I’ll make it up to you soon.

The Subtle Art of Extinguishing Creative Sparks

Don’t you hate how some people hold onto their artistic ambitions long after they’ve gotten laid for the first time? I mean, come on. They should’ve set that guitar down the moment their backs hit the mattress. You put a sock on the doorknob, strum out a little Wonder Wall, and cast that shit aside. Mission accomplished. Am I right? If someone is still plucking that thing into his thirties there’s something wrong with him.

The same goes for people staggering into coffee houses calling themselves writers, sitting there scribbling into leather bound journals, looking as pensive as possible, hoping some college girl will ask, “What are you writing?” I mean talk about a long con, and the thing I don’t get is why these dumbs schmucks go back to scribbling once they’ve gotten a girl’s attention. It’s like they’re backtracking the wrong way across the finish line.

The worst is when you’re friends with one of these rhyme-scheming stanza stacking wordsmiths, walking around wielding a notepad like a weapon that could go off at the first recitation. You’re a captive audience to their cry for help, forced to give an impromptu theory session under the guise of feedback. The indulgence is exhausting.

You float the idea: What if you channeled all that creative energy into writing a cover letter or technical copy?

Despite all your interventions your friend doesn’t know when to put away childish things. Everyone’s got paintbrushes in their attic, film equipment in their closet, and drum kits in their basement, but he’s still clinging to his hobby like it defines him.

He’s still dreaming about inspiring people with his creations, despite all the grey coming into his hairline. It’s really starting to bum you out.

Well, don’t fret. I’ve developed some tactics to neg your artistic associate into submission.

Remind Him That What He’s Doing Isn’t Normal

Refuse to accept any motivation outside of your experience as a reason for anyone else doing anything. If your painting pal says he’s doing it for any other reason than sex or money tell him you don’t buy it. Humans are social creatures, always comparing their actions to others, the more you make your pal feel like an outsider the more they’ll reconsider wearing those paint smeared overalls outdoors.

Remind Him that He’s Not Attractive

If the music industry has taught us anything it’s that only young physically attractive people make the sounds we long to hear. If your friend is neither of those things that door has already closed for him. He may try to rebut your argument by saying his years of training, talent, and life experience have to count for something. Maybe he’ll arguing his lyrics come from a sincere place that others his age can relate to. Gently remind him that new music isn’t for people his age and that if he has to search for deeper meaning he should find it in musicians from when he was young. One generation digging on another’s music is just weird and unnatural.

Remind Him There’s No Money in Art Anymore

The tools for making art are so commonplace that anyone with a phone and a bus pass can crank out some BDSM fan fiction on their way home. They can hit publish before they even reach their stop. Most authors on Amazon never see dollar one, because they all had the same idea at the same time. The sharing economy has freed the horde to cannibalize itself. For every great American novel there’s a scamphlet trying to cash in on Amazon’s lax screening system.

Bring Age Up Again

I know that to be a seasoned writer you ought to have some life experience, your words need to be lived in for anyone to believe them, but don’t tell your friend that.

If you want him to be freed up in time to make it to your fantasy football draft pick you need to convince him he is nowhere near having his shit together. Use social media to compare his relationship and financial status to his peers. After all, that is what Facebook is there for.

He’s Only Doing it for Attention So Cut Him Off

If your friend has a new drawing on his phone find another direction to fix your gaze in. If he has a story to pitch shift the conversation to news of a comic book adaptation. If your friend sends you a link to his new song deflect to your inner ear infection.

Remember. Self-expression is self-harm. You are enabling it by indulging him.

Reinforce His Non-Artistic Behavior

If your friend has ten too many, leaves a series of unrequited voicemails on his ex girlfriend’s phone, and discovers a shortcut across a soccer field, and parks on his front lawn you should congratulate him for having a story worth telling. If your friend finds a police officer’s badge in his pocket and has no idea how it got there then you can engage him in conversation. If he comes to the water cooler with a series of fresh scars go ahead and ask to hear more.

But the moment he says he’s got an idea for a work of fiction you hall ass to the nearest window and you start staring.

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