"If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of."
I've been thinking about art a lot. About great books, the sometimes not-so-great people who write them and about my own shortcomings as an artist. I suppose my observation can translate to every sphere of human interest, but I'll talk about what I know and since I've been a cog in the publishing business for almost four years now, I'll talk about books.
Last year, I wrote a post about this theory of mine. I argued that if you strive for greatness, you needed a model you could never quite match, so you could keep ahead of everybody else while chasing your ideal down. That the state of longing was quite healthy. Consider this text to be an addendum to the lure theory.
One thing about the publishing industry that makes me feel horrible is that state of latent competition between everybody. As if there weren't enough readers in the world for everybody. Although I don't believe that, I'm guilty of feeling this way too, especially when others wallow in every minor success they have on social media. That makes me paranoid. Should I do it too? Should I make myself sound more successful that I really am? I often have to talk myself out of it.
Why do we feel that pinch when others release great artistic material into the world? Isn't it because of great books that we've started writing at all? I know I did. I was inspired by the chronicler of Boston's working class Dennis Lehane (not that I haven't told you that a thousand times already). So should I feel different whenever anybody else publishes an awe-inspiring novel? No.
I believe creating art is a selfish business, but it's done for selfless reasons.
Imagine you've written something great. An epochal novel that made the critics drop to one knee and the people stampede to their nearest book store. Why did you write it? Because it was the best story you could tell, sure but what are your expectations now? What will your life be until somebody writes something better? So many readers become writers because they feel the challenge. That's how great art is created and that's how artistic golden era are born. Artists feed of one another's creativity to create something greater than themselves. That's how art thrives and survives. By transforming readers into Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and Albert Camus.
Of course, there are no tangible measurement for art, except maybe book sales and given the state of publishing, it would consecrate terrible writers as geniuses. What I'm saying here is that feeling intimidated by anything art-wise is a waste of your precious time on this Earth. Great art, wherever it comes from, should make your feel elated, enlightened and inspired. You should harvest great fiction for creativity triggers and then write your own. Greatness engineers greatness. Never feel intimidated by somebody else's work. Feel inspired.
A great artist can make you feel like an unreachable philosopher on the top of his mountain, but always remember that the only thing that separates you is your willingness to climb.