“I feel it’s important for me to be completely honest in what I write about. To me artists fall into two categories, they are revelatory or obfuscatory. There are artists that want to create an image of themselves, that isn’t really them, but it’s part of the product, the brand and stuff like that. So whenever they are in the context of performance… they adopt this persona. And the words that they write are from this persona not from themselves… I have always been a revelatory artist. I am most interested in writing about the things that I actually think about rather than trying to think about what someone wants to hear and write about that.” – Todd Rundgren, from The Moment podcast interview
There are days when I’d rather have published anonymously. There’s something liberating about the free pass granted to the anonymous – you see it in Tweet and troll comments I suppose, where people feel they can say anything that comes to mind. But, deep down, can you really respect the anonymous? I don’t believe so. We respect those who put themselves out on a limb.
We all balance the character we want to present to the world with who we actually are. As you get a bit wiser you stop worrying about becoming a character and you just become yourself (and some of us are real characters). Artists either play for the hits or mine deep for the gold. Now and then you get both in the same work.
If you’re lucky and a bit brave, you reach a point where you just write for the love of discovery and revelation. Joyful bits of magic stumbled upon and written about, one post at a time. Some frivolous, some tedious, but now and then you scrub the words together just so and something sparkles. Sometimes you’re the only one that sees the glimmer, other times it bounces around the room like laser light on a disco ball.
You know when you’ve put it all out there, just as you know when you’ve held back a bit of yourself. I’ve written a few posts where I clearly obfuscated and see it immediately when I look back on it. I think most people see it too. Deep down we all know when someone is holding back or playing to the audience. Fluff writing designed for clicks and likes and whatnot.
Rundgren reminds me that there’s more to do. You want your work to crackle and spark imagination and wonder? Go deeper. Leaning into revelatory writing is a leap into the the chasm. But where else would you rather be?