Here's something Matt's writing block suggests to me for our infrequent conversation about writing.
Listening to XM radio yesterday, I heard Graham Nash talking about the wonderful Crosby Stills Nash and Young tune “
“Rules and regulations/who needs them…”
Well, I kind of like the line. And in the context of the times when it was written, the line had a lot of meaning. Particularly in rock music, it was important for a song to distinguish itself as coming from outside the accepted line of thinking. In other words, it was important to demonstrate your music had not been co-opted to appear radical when, in fact, it wasn't. Nash’s tag line certainly established "
Nash’s subsequent regret notwithstanding, the real question here is what writers should do retrospectively about the thoughts they've expressed, and how their fear of the future should impact what they write in the present. I heard Henry Miller speak once at the Actor's Studio in LA, and a questioner in the audience asked the great man about some of the particularly troublesome statements in his work. Miller looked out at the audience -- I'm not sure he could actually see well enough at 80-something to even see the questioner -- and said without hesitation, "I don't take back one word."
I was heartened when he didn’t capitulate. It seemed to me to be the right response. A writer should write from the heart in the context of his times. And then, a writer should live with with what he has said.
Writers can find themselves stifled by fear of what they are saying. How will their family react? How will their colleagues react? How will society react? What will the critics say? These voices are antithetical to creativity.
Because, you see, when a writer -- even in fiction -- expresses something, he is revealing himself; revealing who he is, what he thinks. And, the fear of revealing this is probably destructive to the creative process. His work will suffer if he censors himself in fear of how others will see him based on what he writes. Or, on the other hand, he can be seduced by the idea of writing something which will make him seem like a wonderful person to know.
The writer can strive to show his better self and suppress his worst self. The effort, either way, will not be honest.
Henry Miller certainly did not succumb to either seduction. Perhaps that's why his work still resonates as original today.
As Matt showed us so well, the process of writing is damned fragile.
-- Lofflin, posting again by voice