Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Writing as Communal Art

One of the old truth that seems to have been passed down from every preceding generation of authors is that writing, like painting and composing, is a lonely art. A full life, Yeats reminds us, leads to nights filled with regret.

I spent most of this evening with my friend Adam playing Samurai Swords (a Risk-like board game that awaits a post I've been meaning to write for a couple weeks now). I could have sat hunched alone over my computer. I could have made a cup of tea and curled up with one of my books. I could have gone back to work and done any of the many projects calling me there.

I think Yeats is wrong. The modern writer (maybe the modern person?) is too plugged in to be as isolated as "The Choice" suggests a writer must be. When I look around, all I see are people writing. My blogging buddies have recipes for a steak-mushroom-cheese pie, ruminations on hand-written mail, and poetic horoscopes to get us through our week. Some of my friends are busy getting themselves published (yay Mel!).

Writing this way (on the internet, in a blog, often with no intention of editing and refining the little pieces of truth we stumble across as we work), this lacks the permanence of Yeats' work. But Yeats was an oddity in his craft and in his time: a successful poet (as such things are measured) who won a Nobel Prize for Literature at 58; who published some of his best work after that; we wrote wreaths of intricate work while also exploring Irish theater.

I have a half a dozen posts I really do mean to sit down and pound out as soon as I have the time, and I sometimes wonder why I keep writing. Mainly, I think it helps me think; writing helps me to know what I think and to find a way to articulate it. But I keep my pace because of all the writing I see around me, all the thoughts and words and ideas that my friends pour out. I'm grateful for them.

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