I Am A Rock, I Am An Island

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2018-02-25 01:00:00 No comments

How Fiction Authors Write – Evgeny Volohin – Medium

My writer friend often says: “I want to move to Switzerland, live in a small village near the snow-covered Alps and do the only thing — write my books”. Later he usually adds: “It is because I can’t write in this country, I feel absolutely no inspiration here”.

... The truth is that if you really want you can write and create whenever and wherever. ... You are nothing as an author unless you can write beyond the greenhouse conditions.

Emphasis mine. I really like this term, "greenhouse conditions"; the image summoned to mind is of delicate flowers that can't bloom except under the most rigidly controlled circumstances. But people aren't flowers, of the hothouse variety or otherwise, and neither are artists, and we need to not let that delusion perpetuate itself.

King Missile, forever immortal for their song (and accompanying video) "Detachable Penis", also had a tune called "I Am A Sensitive Artist":

I don't go to recitals anymore
Because my hearing is too sensitive
And I don't go to art galleries anymore
Because there are people there
And I can't deal with people
Because they don't understand me

The rest of the song is in the same vein (and a riot, like most King Missile tracks), and touches on a basic truth. Being detached is seen as a virtue; the holy, untouchable Self has to commune with its-Self, so go away and let me write a poem already. But you can't make anything if you're not in contact with anything — what else are you going to write about? — and so any attempts to dig down into yourself will just be met with blank bedrock.

Many amateur creators do seem to walk around with the unquestioned assumption that life is the obstacle, and that art is the Real Thing. Even when they joke about the above-exemplified, proverbial village in the Swiss Alps, they seem to be taking the underlying assumption seriously: that the only way to create things is to keep life at bay, and that only a lucky few with money or opportunities ever get to do that — and since they themselves aren't that lucky, the mission is ruined for them before it ever got underway.

So, yeah, a little truth there. People who have creature comforts and spare time have that many less distractions in their lives, and can spare more effort to create. A guy who has to drive two hours each way to work doesn't want to hear you tell him that he needs to not be lazy as soon as he comes home, when he just wants to fall face-first into bed. Creating anything, save for a bowl of soup and a sandwich, is the last thing on that guy's mind. The fact that he is hip-deep in the real world, the one we need to draw on to create anything in the first place, is no comfort to him. (It sure explains why the majority of couture fiction is created by the only ones who have the time to throw into such projects, and it also explains why reading most of that stuff is like chewing straw.)

What I will say, though, is how there are people in far less hellacious circumstances who still labor under the delusion that the paint on the walls needs to be just the right color before they can do anything. I can't help but think all that stems from a common, romanticized misunderstanding of what this job is and why people do it. This job has never been about bottling yourself up from the world. A room of one's own (thank you, Virginia Woolf) and a bit of headspace do help. But they are the point of entry, not the destination.

Tags: artists creativity creators inspiration