Some of the artists I love fail more than they succeed. I realize that statement is not entirely fair. My feeling is that some artists either don’t know how to, or choose not to, edit themselves. Maybe they don’t know where to stop and the image or idea was done 10 steps before they could let go. The reason so many of these artists succeed brilliantly is their willingness to experiment. Sometimes they push too far and don’t stop where I would have them stop. To succeed at all is magical; it is greatness.
I go into all this now because I am having some of these doubts about myself. I have never created anything I consider “capital A” Art. The project that has me considering failure and experimentation is a project I started last year; a book. I have been reticent to mention this because I am not a writer by training. That much should be obvious by the way Atlas reads. Though I enjoy writing very much and I may have a straightforward style, I recognize my shortcomings. Often I sacrifice language in service of getting the idea down quickly. I doubt myself because I have plenty to doubt.
I was not a reader for many years. I read more now, often voraciously, because I have missed so much. I feel like I will always be playing catch up. Do you ever get this feeling? Do you see a book and think, shit, I know I should have read this 20 years ago, before I read X,Y or Z?
As a writer, I have found myself stealing and failing, editing and failing, re-reading and restarting and failing. I have a day job and a family and Atlas, so it is easy to put it in a drawer. I can let it languish, work on it some, and forget it, I don’t really get to work on it much, but reading Haruki Murakami’s recent piece for the Telegraph made me realize that I must schedule myself with whatever hours I have to work. So I will keep writing and keep failing, until maybe I don’t.
– Jeff Bergman July 2015