In a blog post for The Guardian, Robert McCrum writes:
For new and original books to flourish, there must be privacy, even secrecy. In Time Regained, Marcel Proust expressed this perfectly. “Real books”, he wrote, “should be the offspring not of daylight and casual talk, but of darkness and silence.”
How many “real books” enjoy “darkness and silence” today? Not many. In 2010, the world of books, and the arts generally, is a bright, raucous and populist place. The internet – and blogs like this – expose everything to scrutiny and discussion. There’s a lot of self-expression, but not necessarily much creativity.
As a creative writer, I resent and disagree with McCrum’s assertions. I have shared creative work online, via my blog Laryssa Writes Fiction. In fact, I posted what amounts to a book-length work and allowed anyone who was interested access to it.
However, the real work on those stories happened offline, during long hours of solitude and intense concentration. Sure, I realize that my manuscript is not yet complete and could stand many more revisions, but I was happy to share what I had, to come out of the “darkness” and see the light.
How would I be able to write dialogue if I couldn’t observe and participate in casual talk? The best banter, the stuff of believable dialogue, occurs on social networks and via online chat tools: Twitter posts, Facebook status updates, Gchat conversations.
Trust me: when I’m working seriously on something, I deal with more than enough darkness. A person cannot sustain too much intense creative output without needing to air out the mind and wrestle with the mindlessness that sometimes is the Internet.
And what’s so bad about scrutiny and discussion? Sure, not everyone who reads your work, views your photo, or finds your piece of art may be qualified to offer you helpful criticism or be able to help you grow as an artist, but isn’t some of the point of creating art sharing it?
What’s the difference between self-expression and creativity? Shouldn’t everyone have the right to express oneself, even if the goal of self expression is not necessarily high art? Isn’t noise, chatter, and collective expression what make the world so interesting anyway? You don’t need an M.F.A. or some other fancy training to do it. What do you think?
(Photo by sudhamshu)