What is, bar none, the most important factor in any artists repertoire?
A unique voice.
Without that one quality, no artist has a snowball’s chance in hell in making it big and keeping on top. Oh, they might be lucky enought to dash off a good novel that makes the rounds, but staying power? If they haven’t got a unique voice then they have no staying power. They will inevitably diminish down to nothingness, aloneness and living like they’d always lived before — striving always to get on top but without the unique skills that would allow them to do so.
Can voice be taught? I don’t think so. It is the way the artist views the world. It is the way the artist looks at colour, shape and design. It is the way the artist incorporates the world around him so that she can refashion it into something entirely new. It is the moment in time when inspiration hits and doesn’t let go.
But there is a price to be paid when you are the repository of such brilliant aptitudes, isn’t there? Isn’t is always the brilliant ones who wind up self destructing? It seems so to me.
Sylvia Plath. Virginia Woolf. Hemmingway and Hoffman and Hunter S. Thompson. David Foster Wallace.
What do they all have in common? Isn’t it obvious? They all were brilliant in their unique voice — and they all killed themselves.
Now, I’m not saying that every artist who has that unique voice, that brilliant way of living in this world, will eventually kill themselves, but I’d like to suggest that it is not easy to be saddled with brilliance and not know how to manage that brilliance on a day to day level. In fact, that unique voice, that inner brilliance, may be a large part of why the artists above wound up taking their own lives.
But without them here to tell us for sure, this can only be conjecture.