I think loneliness is important to an artist. I wrote about that here. But I’m learning how important community is too. On Saturday I had the privilege of hearing from two ultra-talented and ultra-lovely women about their crafts. As we shared stories, I felt my own muse encouraged, fed, and even indulged.
There is magic in sharing art. My manuscripts are so very different from the years I’ve spent in writing groups and swapping pages with critique partners. For example, Heather has a knack for describing settings. I, ahem, do not. If left to my own devices, my characters would race from scene to scene, acting and speaking, while my readers struggled to visualize the storyworld. She has taught me the importance of taking a breath, however short, to weave in the character of a place.
Other writers have taught me too, and I haven’t even met them. Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott, Steven King, John Truby, and so many more who have written of the craft. So has any friend who has ever told a good story, or any novelist who has lifted their veils enough to let me in. Thank you! I want to shout. Thank you, thank you! You are all part of my lifestory and any work of fiction I might write.
The artist needs such a strange mixture of solitude and community to really thrive. We need plenty of introspection to delve the depths, but we also need the experience of opening ourselves up to others who are opened. This combo helps us thread life into our works. The true, deep kind of Life that gives to any who see, touch, hear, taste, smell, really sense our work. This is the good stuff of creating.
What have you learned about collaborative creativity? How has it changed you and your work?