why do this?
i have this great book, called The Best American Essays of 2006. (It's a great one to stick in your car and read a bit of here and there). Anyway, I just read a really great essay by Alan Shapiro called "Why Write?" which had some really great points that apply to all kinds of creative efforts, and i thought i would share some of the bits that i liked the best.
talking about keeping the balance between creative arrogance & humility: "It's hard to find the proper balance between the arrogance we need to keep on writing [insert whatever it is you do] -- the arrogance that assumes we have something worth saying, and we're smart enough to learn what someone's smart enough to teach us -- and the humility we also need in order to grow and develop, the humility that knows we cannot nurture and refine our gifts without the help of others, that other people...can sometimes tell us things we need to hear. Too much arrogance and not enough humility and we close ourselves off from the world; nothing new comes in, and we eventually become imitators of ourselves, turning what at one time were discoveries into mannerisms. Too much humility and not enough arrogance and we lose our center of gravity, finding ourselves at the mercy of everyone else's opinion. Striking the right balance between humility and arrogance is another exhausting and often frustrating aspect of the writing life."
Another quote he uses from someone named Elizabeth Bishop (I have no idea who she is, but she sure sounds smart): We write for the same reason we read or look at paintings...for the total immersion of the experience, the narrowing and intensification of focus to the right here, right now, the deep joy of bringing the entire soul to bear upon a single act of concentration.
Wow, i totally feel like that! even if most of what i make is totally bad, it really just feels good to get lost in a project, painting or drawing. And isn't that so good, that part about turning discoveries into mannerisms?? I feel like this sometimes happens to me, after i've made one picture that i like: i'll just kind of continue to repeat that same thing and they are soul-less. Anyway, just food for thought on a sunday afternoon.