Sunday, December 10, 2006
awe-inspiring vs. clearly visible
"A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?"
How close should a writer get to her public?
The same could be asked of any artist, I suppose. I asked this in my other blog, one mostly read by other writers, and received varying answers. Writer's Digest also covers the question in this month's issue. The majority consensus seems to be that readers appreciate being able, with the internet, to connect more closely with their favorite writers and that it is also helpful to writers to be able to receive such personal feedback.
I think there is a fine line and determining when it's crossed can be tricky. Mountains may be more clearly visible from a distance, but there are wonders about them that only those who get closer can know and learn to truly appreciate their inspiration.
Artists are fairly mysterious creatures to others and that mystery can be a good thing; it helps to create an aura around their work. Too much mystery, though, can lead to detachment. Look at characters in novels who are under-developed. They may be going through exciting or horrendous adventures, but unless a reader can delve in far enough to see who they are inside, why should they care how the adventure unravels?
I have many favorite artists of all types. I can admire their works and enjoy reading/listening/viewing. Still, there is a distance that equates to one who sees the bare outline of a mountain and thinks it beautiful, knowing nothing more. Why do so many of us wish to meet our favorite artists? Because it gives us the opportunity to walk up that mountain path and see what kind of trees are growing on it and from where the colors and shadows stem and what else lives inside its depths. It creates a different kind of awe, a more visible relationship that helps us connect further, and to care more.
The advent of online communications with not only authors but artists of all kinds allows for an experience so few have been able to afford in the past; a chance to "meet" the creator and look inside its depths.
Artists should take care, though, not to reveal anything that gives too much away about their work. Their creations need to stay distant to an extent, to stay mostly hidden until completion and then to maintain a bit of mystery. There needs to be an allowance for the audience interpretation. I adore that rare opportunity when I get to hear a reader's interpretation about my work. It so truly shows that a writer is only part of the equation. Each reader brings a uniqueness to the work that helps make it more personal to her. That boundary needs to stay uncrossed.
I would love to hear thoughts on the issue from writers and readers alike.
A note: With the holidays upon us, my weekend entries may slow or cease until January. I wish you all a Beautiful Christmas/Hanukah/Al Adha and a wonderful 2007!