Friday, April 24, 2009
THE ESSENCE OF WRITING
“The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure.”
That quote from the dancer, Mikhail Barshnikov, comes as close as anything I can think of to what writing means to me. It captures the exhilaration of creating a world out of words and sharing that world with others. I completely identify with the statement, but there are times when the exhilaration is hard to find, when it’s almost suffocated by doubt and frustration.
Does that mean that my writing isn’t really art? That’s not for me to say (or even know). I can only do my best and hope. What I hope most is that it gives pleasure.
Do I have pleasure in writing? Depends on when you ask me. When the words flow easily–definitely. When I’m struggling to find the right words–not so much. How about when I’m stumped for a way to extricate my characters from the dilemma I’ve created for them? The answer to that is mixed. Part of my brain says, “Give it up. Turn off the computer. Make a cup of tea and have a brownie.” Another part says, “Keep going. Your muse will speak up if you give her time.” I wish I could say the latter part always wins. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. More often than I like to admit, the call of tea and brownie is louder than my muse. When that happens, sometimes I go back refreshed and everything falls into place. Other times, problems seem to have multiplied in my absence. In the end, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that I do go back, because if I do, I know eventually I’ll work it out. And that knowledge is pleasure.
Today is the release date of By Whose Hand, my newest Avalon mystery. Today, it goes on the shelves of bookstores and libraries beside the books of all the other writers, past and present, whom I admire so much–an almost dizzying thought. I write mysteries and my last name begins with C. That means I’m rubbing shoulders (should I say covers?) with Agatha Christie. Pure pleasure.
What about you? What do you find pleasurable in writing? Or reading? Or whatever you do that both exhilarates and frustrates you?