5.27.2010

Creator and Created: On Liking Your Own Work

[Sorry, friends, about not blogging yesterday. Styling citations takes a lot longer than I thought it would ... or maybe it's just that I'm a writer and therefore I like quotes. Lots and lots of them.]

Alan Lastufka has vindicated all those of us who spend time reading our own words and listening to our own music. I've always felt a little weird about how much of that I do. After all, Chesterton said in the introduction to Orthodoxy that "there is in everything a fair division of labour. I have written the book, and nothing on earth would induce me to read it." Maybe that's how Chesterton was able to write so much.

But I've never been able to stop the compulsory returns to my own work. I have two reasons for this: first, it helps me improve my craft, and second, I write what I love and therefore tend to like the resulting product.

Regarding the first, I'll find myself listening to or re-reading what worked--songs where the harmonies and rhythms came together; places in a story where a character revealed part of his or her emotional depth, or where the plot got especially interesting. That strengthens my understanding of what parts are succeeding and what needs work.

As for the second, well--as Alan put it, "why would you bother investing that much time and energy and love into a product that you yourself don’t enjoy spending time with?" I love replaying songs where it seems to me that despite the weaknesses of my amateur performance, the music is actually beautiful and meaningful. Even more than that, I love my story. It draws from so much that I admire and adore: passion, peace, love, life, light and innocence. I love getting close to the people I wrote into being, reliving the moments that shaped them, that took them and sometimes even me by surprise, that made their story something I think I could share with the world and not feel ashamed.

Pardon the rhapsody! Perhaps you can sympathize through your own creations. Either way ... hopefully I'm not a total narcissist. Of course, I also re-read old blog-posts, usually just to make sure I didn't say anything stupid. You can make of that what you will.

P.S. While you're checking out Alan's blog, his latest CD--Erase This, with Luke Conard (vocals) and a lot of other gifted musicians--rocks. And it's not even techno. Or popera. :)

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