Though we talk about “the individual vs the collective,” as if that dichotomy is an eternal truth about the world, there exist groups that encourage divergence and healthy individuation.
Thanks for sharing! Lots of good insights.
I find myself often in this conflict between catering to an audience and following my inner voice, and they usually take one of two forms: 1) a perfectionist tendency to delay publishing anything until it gains enough complexity; 2) a fear of writing stuff that are in stark contrast to the persona I usually present to friends and family, which compose most of my subscribers. Worse, if I can’t expect to publish sth new, I lose the motivation to write it down in the first place.
To that point, I really like how you chose the word “illegible” together with “searching, creative”. In a similar vein, a friend who’s learning poetry recently suggested that I allow space for myself to “get messy”in order to create anything novel. It’s a reminder that good work could look completely hopeless in the early stages, so don’t be disheartened too early. This applies to other creative tasks as well - the first drafts of designs looking offtrack, the earliest stages of companies seeming like dorm room projects, etc.
But how can one allow themselves to create messy work? My friend suggested that the process should look a lot more like “play” instead of “work”. “Go on dates with your inner child.” She told me, “it’s important to keep it fun.” To find an audience that supports one’s continual unfolding, one can start by being one for themselves, by staying in the moment instead of fixating on others’ expectations.
This brought into sharp focus my relationship with the work of a specific artist.
I don't think I've ever liked any song of Aurora's the first time I would hear them. But, weirdly during the pandemic, I became obsessed with connecting with her music? (I have no idea why I had this unconditional trust that if I gave her music time, something would open up for me.)
She would publish music. I wouldn't like it. I would listen to it 50 times - in different periods of my life, live + studio versions, read the lyrics, watch music videos, etc. Inevitably, one day, there would be a resonance. I have been caught completely off-guard every time it happens.
It's almost as if when you are doing something different as a creator, it can take time for the resonance to develop between you and an audience. If a song is doing something strange, I'm not necessarily going to emotionally connect with it within a 2 minute listen. It needs time to percolate.
This is such a beautiful post. I feel it's very difficult to adequately convey how much of an internal and relational challenge that writing and pinpointing authenticity is. There is so much conflict between self and the imagined specter of the audience, and I sort of started writing with the expectation that it would go away eventually, but it just sort of morphs into a more tangly thing.
Lately I've simplified my blog writing, and have also been rushing through essay submissions, focusing on making it more accessible and learning about the response, but I find crave more space to sharpen my thinking. With this scrapper writing I learn a little bit about what themes are in the background of my life but don't take the opportunity to go deep and mess around in my mental architecture because I have an expectation that it's too obscure and tedious for most. This is a good reminder for me to do more of that, even if in private.
Very helpful, thanks! Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most powerful. Layers of nuances trivially hide them away.
It may well be true that ‘scripta manent, verba volant’, but It is always worth to remember that disseminating writing is not unlike reading your poetry aloud.