Women feel more guilt than men, not because of some weird chromosomal issue but because they have a history of being blamed for other people’s behavior. You get hit, you must have annoyed someone; you get raped, you must have excited someone; your kid is a junkie, you must have brought him up wrong.
And everyone made such a big deal about the fact that it was ‘sweet sixteen’ and it seemed so stupid that a girl has to be sixteen and seventeen and everybody gushes over her like this is the high point of her life. When boys are sixteen nobody cares. They get drunk and crash their cars and get it any kind of trouble they want. They can have pimples and smell bad because nothing matters for them until they grow up and have important jobs bossing people around. But if you’re a girl everyone says you’re ‘blossoming’, you’re so ‘beautiful’, here let’s take a picture so when you’re old and ugly you can look back and ‘remember’.
When I was younger, I wish someone had told me straight-up that not all adults experience “a calling”. That many of them never find particular purpose in a career. That sometimes, their job is just what pays the bills and they have to seek satisfaction and fulfillment…
A writer or any artist can’t expect to be embraced by the people. I’ve done records where it seemed like no one listened to them. You write poetry books that maybe 50 people read. And you just keep doing your work because you have to, because it’s your calling.
But it’s beautiful to be embraced by the people.
Some people have said to me, “Well, don’t you think that kind of success spoils one as an artist? If you’re a punk rocker, you don’t want to have a hit record…”
And I say to them, “Fuck you!”
One does their work for the people. And the more people you can touch, the more wonderful it is. You don’t do your work and say, “I only want the cool people to read it.” You want everyone to be transported, or hopefully inspired by it.
When I was really young, William Burroughs told me, “Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises. Don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work. And make the right choices and protect your work. And if you can build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.”