A dissertation on the creative process
|Since experiencing a semi-debilitating stroke two years ago, I have lost my ability to play guitar and sing. In the interim, however, I have discovered writing as a substitute outlet of creative expression. It is surprising the number of similarities these two modes of artistic expression share. There is even some descriptive terminology that both forms employ.
For instance, in music, there is considerable emphasis placed on "phrasing". Put simply, for a singer, phrasing is the specific means of forming sounds in a pleasing sequence. So, too, in writing, there is the placement of words in a specific and, with a bit of luck, a pleasing order. This particular methodology, in both forms, constitutes the basis of the pleasurable incidence for the performer (or author).
All art would seem to have this in common. Whereas in music the artistic sense is relatively fluid, with writing as in the visual arts it is somewhat more static. While there is bound to be considerable argument on this point in certain quarters, it is difficult to argue with the fixed nature of the visual arts. Certainly, in these times of "performance" art and video installations, there has to be a differentiation from the established rigidity of visual forms.
Some might say classical music shares in this rigidity what with the predominance of written sheet music. Yes, but even then the nuanced playing and interpretation of the performer have as much to do with the art as the composer. Consequently, it would seem the whole issue of rigidity/fluidity rests on the individual. Writing, for me, falls somewhere between the two, with the fluidity of the unedited draft on the one side and the rigidity of the final copyrighted work firmly on the other.
There is a moment, during the creative process, where the individual responsible for the creative act, experiences a pleasurable surge of emotion directly connected to the creative process, what might be called an "ah" moment. In my prior music experience, these moments were quite common, especially in conjunction with particularly pleasing phrases. I find, now, that these same moments of gratification are present in the act of writing - or more specifically, the contemplation of the recently written word.
The same sense of self-referential pleasure follows the fabrication of the writing (or, again, the contemplation thereof), as follows the act of musical creation. To some, this may seem to be a bit of navel gazing but there is a point here somewhere. It is up to me to ferret it out, to at least illustrate and illuminate it. It may take some doing but I will give it my best shot.
In music, it is a straightforward business: one sings and a pleasurable sound is produced or it is not. With writing there is a bit more involved: one writes and then waits for validation, either the validation of self or the confirmation of others. The corroboration of others is not essential (in music or writing) but the very nature of the creative act cries out for a sharing.
In corroboration there is discovery, whether of beauty or puzzlement, wonder or intrigue, for creation is able to encompass all of these and more. In the verification of others, there is, if not validity, then a shared sense of humanity, of being alive. Perhaps this is too great an objective but to aim high is what art is about, is it not?