I Killed the Artist

I Killed the Artist

By Kaitlin Seeger

I killed the artist. I’m no stranger to second-guessing, to backtracking and mental pacing, but leaving behind my life-long passion for something new, something I was unskilled in and comparatively much worse at—that wasn’t indecision. That wasn’t a decision at all.

For years, my life was on pause: no matter how much effort I put into my drawings and struggled to improve, it wasn’t working; I was still desperate for something, but no amount of gorging myself on empty creations satisfied me. I was at a standstill, and each step I took opposed the last, a willfully blind stumble tearing me in two.

The starving artist, starved of art. What I once called inspiration loomed over me, a guillotine held at bay only by a fraying rope. An expectation—an execution—I gave myself. Drawing had become no more than a meaningless act of routine, no life to be found within it, no passion. Passion without what defines it—what defined me? What was I, without the one thing I had honed to be ‘mine’? Who was I, in its absence?

I was the art kid in school. In class, if there was a drawing aspect to an assignment, I couldn’t just turn in a stick-figure drawing, but neither could I doodle in the margins; in group activities, I was automatically assigned the role of the artist, no question, no doubt, because I enjoyed drawing, didn’t I? Didn’t I? If I ever did, then that memory is long buried beneath six feet of turmoil: bitterness, resentment, exhaustion. I loved drawing—but drawing no longer loved me.

Something needed to give way; it didn’t matter what. Sometimes, we switch furniture around on a whim or paint over the bright, cheery colors of our childhood walls with down-to-earth, muted palettes. Sometimes, that urge drives us to take blunt scissors to our hair and either love or regret it come the next morning. Sometimes, all we want, all we need, is to be reckless, to be stupid, to be alive. I did all of that and more: I plunged myself into an uncertainty that I controlled, a new path in life that I was hurtling myself down without any of that twisted-up direction, those unwieldy tools that I had before.

There was never a decision to be made.

I killed the artist. I don’t regret putting it out of its misery—snuffing out those fading embers so another passion can burn brighter in its place. Writing will never be mere words on a page; there is an homage in the craft: a rough sketch in the outline, acrylics in the metaphors, watercolors in the lyricism. A reminder, a bittersweet grief, to not kill the writer, too.