Now, life gets in the way sometimes and for sure my days and nights have been full of things that are just not writing and for that matter nothing lending to creativity.
And then it happens. I walk down the street and looking in the intersection, as I have a tendency to do, I see another toynbee tile. This one is in fact just about two blocks from the crappy house in the bad neighborhood I live.
I started noticing these tiles - oh who knows how long ago it was - that's not true, i know exactly when I noticed them... I had been on JFK Blvd and my eye caught one under my feet. Within a month, I had tried to map out the tiles, believing they were an art installation with a big picture I just could not figure out. Then in the year 2000, I stood at 16th and Chestnut Streets looking down at the biggest tile I had seen to date. It was part of the manifesto reading how the tiles should be laid alone and calling the media folk hellions.
At the time, I lived in a neighborhood that didn't seem to have any tiles. I only saw them when I was in center city. Then I went to Steve's Bug Off Insectarium - the museum devoted to bugs in a neighborhood farther from center city than my own in Philly. There was one right there in the intersection I had to pass to get into the oddball museum. I was convinced it was another marker for an oddity and more than ever I had to figure out how to map out these tiles.
Then another in the northeast. And another. There may have been as many in the northeast as in center city. We moved to the wrong side of the river and then back to [South Philly]. First walk to the grocery store, there is a tile on some little street that few would use. A documentary was released about these tiles and the man suspected to have laid them. I lived two blocks away from his home. I made sure when I was walking the dog or heading to the store, I walked past his house to maybe catch a glimpse of him. From the documentary, I inferred that he suffered from paranoia and it wasn't my intention to frighten him. I just wanted to know more about these tiles. The more I looked into this man, the more I felt a connection and kept thinking he was seeing something others could not.
As an aside, while watching A Beautiful Mind, it was pointed out that John Nash saw things that others did not. His brain, although brilliant, was skewed and he suffered from schizophrenia. I remember saying, "Why can't his wife see the things he does?" The reaction from my movie buddy was this puzzling look that I could not read.
With Sevy Verna, the man suspected to lay the tiles, I was so curious what let him see something that the rest of us couldn't.
At any rate, I have several projects needing a re-write (including Sevy's Cosmica Sidera featuring Severino) and I feel like I haven't got it in me to begin. And then I see another tile. I moved again. I no longer live a few blocks away from Sevy's house. I had not expected to see this tile. And even more strange, I walked a way I never walk to get to the train in the morning. It was a series of coincidental circumstances reminding me that I need to be mindful of this writing so that I can let it out in a steady stream instead of the vomit of words making little sense to anyone but me.
I read recently that writing is the art and publishing is the business. There are stressors that trigger when thinking about reading the work for publishing and I am not even sure that is the direction I want to go with my work.
I always thought art to be a struggle. Without really hard personal anguish there is no epiphany allowing the sharing of something greater than we are. The banality of suffering provides a commonality, but that moment that an artist translates their victory over the struggle is the moment art is born.
I've heard art is the murder of habit - merely the unexpected. I think to translate that more concisely would be to say it is the interruption of habit. We have to return to our habits and routine, but there is definitely an art to having the unexpected creep into our days.
I had a friend say to me once, an artist sees things differently than the rest of the world. He meant there did not necessarily have to be suffering or something extreme and unexpected for art to happen. And I reflect on these words each time I sit to write. I wonder what it is I can do to make the reader of my work see things as I see them - because I don't think I have ever seen things quite the way most folks do.