12 July 2016

Reading Can Be Detrimental

If I waited until I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.
~  Anne Tyler

S
ometimes reading can be detrimental to your health.  Your creative health, that is.

Take this blog for instance.  There are just two posts for 2016 and although I have been writing off and on for the past six months, I have not been sharing any of my thoughts or musings except with a small circle of writers.

And I think one of the reasons is because I read too much.

The majority of writers ~ most certainly all the writers I know personally or have interviewed ~ write because they cannot help themselves.  To put pen to paper or fingertips to the keyboard is to breathe fresh air.  If we do not write, something precious inside withers away.  Of course, as with any passionate pursuit, there are days when writing is more of a chore, when no word seems right, when the ideas and thoughts flow like a mud-swollen creek.  Yet even then, if I do not write something, I go to bed feeling incomplete.

Yet even on those days when the words simply won’t dance in unison for me, even when writing is something I have to force myself to do in the moment, the joy I experience when I write is still there.  Because once the words are being written, joy kicks in. 

Image: © Luisa Vallon Fumi
Not so much with publishing my writing.  And that is because I have read and taken to heart too many articles about writing and publishing and blogging.  The authors of these articles are writerly vampires, sucking the joy completely out of the creative act of writing.  Their intentions are good, but for them, it is all about clicks and likes and views and “quit your job and make $$ writing!”  

Writing then becomes the platform or stage where I perform rather than the writing itself taking the spotlight. 

So I became obsessed with publishing only those pieces that were “relevant” and would “get the most likes.”  But because I’m an intuitive feeler, that translated into “nothing I write is relevant or good enough and no one is listening anyway.”  Well, Mikaela, maybe people have stopped listening because you never hit the publish button anymore.

I think that the more we try to be ‘relevant” the more our art suffers.  And this applies whether we express ourselves via the written word, on canvas, in clay, on the dance floor, or in the recording studio.  Honestly, have you ever seen or heard a work of art and thought, “Wow, that piece of art is so relevant right now!”  Of course not!  We experience art and take it in and say things like, “That painting speaks to my heart in some way,” or “His music moved me to tears,” or “I was mesmerized by her book and couldn’t put it down!”

Something I say will move you or touch you or enrage you or calm you or make you cry.  But that is immaterial to the creative act itself.  I hope my words elicit those reactions, but I would still write even if I were the last rational being on the planet.

Because I write for the sheer joy that the dance and play of words brings me.

And that joy packs its little bags and goes on vacation if I’m too caught up in clicks and likes and number of views.  For a while that meant that I wrote sporadically and only my writing group saw my work.  For the past month, I’ve been writing daily and still my writing group has only seen the results.  But that re-discovered daily writing habit opened my eyes to what I’d been missing ~ the joy.  And suddenly, I don’t care if I hit publish and still no one reads my words.  I don’t care if what I write and publish here will only get five or six likes ~ all from my writing group. 

The most important thing I can do here is simply share the joy of my art.  And hope that by sharing it, I inspire that joy in someone else.  But if not, the Muse will not leave me because no one reads what I have written.  The Muse only grows sad and leaves when I cease to create and share the joy.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

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