Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Metric for Merit

Once free to construct, an imagination serves as the primary source of potential for whatever the writer desires to put forth into the public domain. Yet in this freedom, the creative aspect must operate within constraints of coherence, tone & ideally theme. Writers do not sit at their desks to permit the mind to spin wild & reckless. We are required to work within strict boundaries; intelligence must maintain established structure & this guiding intelligence is honed by experience.

In private worlds we sense what will not work. Experience & a threshold of tolerance will determine boundaries needed for coherence. Through the mechanics of imagination & critical judgment, creative work is brought into manifestation. This tandem of sensibilities, this co-operation bridging different hemisphere of the brain is essential if we do not wish to waste time or energy on indulgence. Concentration filters content which has no place in a developing work.

Writing requires sacrifice. This offering is expected in many varying forms: in time, with focus & perhaps mostly: the scope of concentration. Why is it that imagination will only loosen-up when it knows we are providing its contents our full attention?

With sacrifice comes expectation. Once we have met the inflexible demands of a waiting Muse, it is natural to believe we shall be rewarded. Confidence is born so we begin to write; if ambitious & persistent, several pages of worthy merit may be captured.

There is a sense of relief in this release; our compromises have been worth the loss endemic to them. Yet there is no guarantee that these dribs & drabs will be of any literary worth every time we activate the effort. They might perhaps be the gunk which needs to be drained as the sacred well primes cleaner material.

Feelings of attachment are fragile towards fresh material; a wash of pride can dissolve into a drain of shame in one sitting. These emotions are a major handicap in assembling work of enduring quality. The rush of joy which accompanies perceived quality is no guarantee of overall viability.

There is neither a proportional relationship, nor an inverse one, between a writer’s estimation of a work in progress & its actual  quality. The feeling that the work is magnificent, & the feeling that is abominable are both mosquitoes to be repelled, ignored, or killed, but not indulged.
                             — Annie Dillard

{Paintings by Leonora Carrington}