On Why

I’ve been struggling lately with where to put my creative focus. It’s not a problem I should be complaining about, really–an overabundance of ideas is a good thing, not a bad thing. The trouble is that when you have too many things you’re excited about, it feels like gross neglect of all of your other projects when you sit down and focus on one.

For me, this leads to a lot of fairly paralyzed couch time where I stare at my knitting basket and my computer and ponder my options, which is in itself a problem because pondering what to do inevitably leads to “Why do it?” and that question is perhaps the most sadistic bastard occupying any artist’s subconscious.

John and I were discussing this last night–he also has a tendency to get hung up on the why. We agree that there’s a certain social pressure on art to be meaningful in a very specific way. That is, art isn’t art unless it comes from a really dark place. That doesn’t really work for me though, because my dark places aren’t all that dark. They’re more angry and commonplace, and dwelling on them to create doesn’t give me a lot of joy or peace of mind.

Whatever I may be as a writer, a Sylvia Plath I am not. Nor, let’s be brutally honest, would I want to be. I’d rather be content than have that experiential edge that would enable me to create the painful work that hold the high place of honor in our art. I see no reason for a bit of fluff and nonsense to not be capable of achieving that high art status, but not knowing how to bridge the gap between a feel-good YA fantasy and literature that will outlive me, I spend a lot of time in paralyzed thought.

Which pushes me into knitting…because there, at least, I suspect that a book on how to create your own style of seamless dragon will be met with the delight it’s meant to engender.


3 thoughts on “On Why

  1. >>We agree that there’s a certain social pressure on art to be meaningful in a very specific way.<<
    Where does that pressure come from? I don't like art obviously made by depressed and traumatized people, and I don't know anyone else who does, either. Isn't entertainment supposed to be fun?

    And I agree with you about the "why" question. Honestly sometimes I just flip a coin to decide what project I should work on next.


  2. Maybe it’s just pressure I get from people in my own life. I have always been a fan of entertainment being fun, but maybe it’s more challenging to make fun culturally durable? There is a certain percentage of the why that springs from a desire to be remembered when everyone who knew me is dead, morbid as that is.

    Flipping a coin wouldn’t work that well given the vastly divided nature of my attention (#whyIneverfinishANYTHING), but if I map all of my current projects to my D10 and force myself to finish one before I can make room for another, maybe I’ll start inching forward. :)


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