Matthew ClarkI’m not sure who reads this. I suppose it doesn’t matter. But if my few posts are tracked or gauged for tone, skepticism, doubt and probably a wee bit of pain can likely be gleaned. I feel like people who pursue art are incessantly positive, at least outwardly. If I last much longer in this pursuit–on this blog, I think it will be as someone speaking to the ridiculousness of it all. Or maybe it’s just me? Maybe I need to go back to my cubical…

This post is a day late as I have spent the last ten days in Norway road-tripping down the fjord-filled coast, hiking mountains and arm-wrestling Vikings along the way. (Sounds nice, right?) It was a venture long planned with my best American friends from my past “traditional” life. The friends are all either married or engaged: each has a house, a savings, a dog… They are in wine clubs and have enough credit to travel to Europe twice a year. Myself, I finished my last show in London on July 12th, went to the after party with my classmates, ducked out at an early 2am to finish a reaction paper due later that week — then, by 6am had a rucksack packed and ready to go via tube to Heathrow Airport and my eventual flight to Trondheim, Norway. Though the trip was planned months earlier, bureaucratic complications prevented me from accessing my retirement money, which–throwing caution to the wind–I had planned to withdraw to fund my venture. Instead, my friends with the clean kitchens and stability sponsored my trip. I was their 31 year-old “practice child,” I joked, following them through grocery stores hoping an energy bar might be tossed my way.

This was never supposed to happen. Even during the trip my money was supposed to arrive. But it never did, and if it wasn’t for the generosity and benediction of my pals, I’d still be stuck in Norway, or worse: I would have never gone in the first place, thereby letting down some of the people I love most. My friends wanted me to be there. They believe in my decisions, maybe even think them courageous, but I’m not as sure. Often this whole dream feels irresponsible and more than a bit childish.

I’m in America now. I have two job interviews in my old field this week. They are good jobs in cities which will allow acting on the side. But if I take either position I’ll be leaving England early, potentially without a degree.

What is an artist supposed to do about reality? Ignore it? Maybe school and enormous volumes of debt is not the way to go…? Maybe real artists–those who make art of deep resonate value–just do it because theyhave to. As in, it is already who they are and truly no other option exists. But can’t I be one of those people? I gave up a kitchen and nice car because I wasn’t happy. I didn’t let comfort lull me to sleep. But I feel like the fire of reality associated with this lifestyle does burn, and maybe irreputably. I can hack it on carrots and sardines with a smile on my face from now until eternity, but debts are not fiction, and nor is the truth that not everyone who choses this route gets paid. Decisions have got to be made. We’ll see where I am in a month.

*For the record, my friends are getting paid back this week, I did not lose any arm wrestling match (and made sure to ironically trash-talk like a true American prior to each bout)… also, fun fact: this is the second time in eight months I’ve been stranded in Norway with no money. 

Matt: On being Stranded in Norway and the Reality of Being an Artist
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Injuries sustained gave me the break in my monastic athletic routine to self-assess and finally summon the courage to tackle the path for which I thought I was most suited: acting
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