It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
For authors, this quote should ring true, and for Indie authors, the bell’s toll should be nothing less than bludgeoning on the ears.
When we are writing, we live for our own opinion. After all, that is what the work is about ... our fictionalized and thematically treated opinion. However, when we send the work out into the world it’s amazing how much we shift gears, particularly those chasing the traditional publishing dream. In that case, the author lives by the opinion of the agent, the editor, the critic, and the reader much more so than an Indie writer.
The concern that this quote brings to the forefront of my rather twisted mind is: What happens when art lives too much for the world’s opinion? I’ll tell you what happens: the artist becomes self-conscious, insecure; the work becomes formulaic, cliché even. We, the author, loose the lustrous adverbs; we, the author, forsake the compelling narrative summary; we, the author, become fearful of experimentation ... and in the end, the language is reduced to inconsequential streams of words that can only hit the page in a finite number of ways. We, the reader, wind up with nothing but sympathetic relatable characters and no one to challenge or contradict us. Plot lines become predictable; the morals of the stories become trite; and the philosophical and theological conundrums all but disappear. The entire creative collective consciousness suffers from writer’s block. That is what happens, and art becomes nothing more than a simple mathematical equation. The unpredictable like love and passion are rendered impotent.
That would be the angry gnashing of my teeth this week.
Cheryl Anne Gardner
The Art this week is Nuremberg Chronicles, Suns and Book Burning, Plate XCIIV courtesy of Wikimedia Commons