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Is there any artist, writer or performer who does not want to create a masterwork? Who does not hope that sometime in our lifetime, such a masterwork will emerge, Medusa-like, from the painstaking disciplined years of artistic toil? Will any of our efforts remain in print, become part of a canon, be remembered even slightly as a good read, a fine landscape, a well-crafted performance? Chances are slim for most of us. Yet, in the struggle, the artist finds joy and purpose most of the time.

Such were my thoughts at the reconstruction of the 1913 Armory Show at the NY Historical Society. There were a few highlights—Matisse, Redon, Duchamp, John Sloan and Robert Henri, a Whistler—artists whose reputations have survived the decades. But for the rest: flawed and unimpressive work.

This realization-- that the Armory Show today would be no big deal-- made me self-conscious about my own work. How good is it? How will it be judged fifty, one-hundred years from now, assuming that it would be judged or enjoyed at all?

I don’t often suffer from such self-doubts; no matter what is going on in my personal and professional life, I keep writing. Day after day, I journal, devise new projects, revise old ones, teach and encourage.

I have a big birthday approaching, perhaps that is why I am having a meltdown today. How much time do I have left to improve? To get it right? How much time do any of us have?

“Stories,” Richard Ford has said, “should point toward what’s important in life.” For a serious artist, no matter how famous or infamous, “time spent on earth is not wasted.”
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