Fame, Fortune, and Other Sources of Creative Invasion
When I’m writing at my finest, words seem to align with the experiences of life in a completely harmonized way. Not a single note misses. Not one is out of tune. These are the happiest moments of my life. Their meaning radiates outwards, bringing joy and connection to everything else I do and see.
It’s that notion of perfect tune and timing — the moment when the writing just sings — that is, in an ideal world, the aim of writing and any other creative pursuit. Of course that word “ideal” is a pretty loaded one. There are many people who will tell you things like “art is about doing it every day” or “art is nothing without marketing.” They speak of art only in practicalities, and I think this confuses the issue.
I wonder: has any artist ever succeeded in creating something meaningful or original while worrying about these things?
I certainly appreciate that practical matters create the time, space, and resources needed to produce art, and yet, is there any artist who can succeed while internal and external voices nag about fat cheques or cheering fans?
What I see in this tension between creativity and practicality are two distinct considerations that cannot overlap without disastrous results. Ultimately, the practical side of art can only build the edifice within which art is created– it cannot be allowed past the threshold. Otherwise, what you get are various forms of pandering, whitewashing, spinelessness, and fear.
Conversely, when you start writing for the fans or money, the perfect song goes out of tune, starts darting around in erratic, unclear rhythms. You spend your time imagining how your work will be received or fantasizing about the yacht you don’t have rather than focusing on the work itself.
The creative act cannot afford to set its sights beyond the aim of harmonizing representation with life. An artist must defend the territory of creation like a cornered animal. During the creative moment, nothing else can exist. From the artist’s perspective, the only way to maintain that ideal creative state is to push outward with the act itself — to fight with art rather than flee into fantasy.
Art is about singing the song so clearly and loudly that nothing else threatens it.
That’s my opinion, anyway, what’s yours?