Saturday, December 15, 2018

The first rewards

"...I am solidly, realistically joyous; I like living in hope of publication; I can live without the actual publication. I write, however poorly, or superficially, for fun, for aesthetic order, and I am not poor or superficial, no matter what I turn out."
--Sylvia Plath, The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 1: 1940-1956, ed. by Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil

Sylvia Plath wrote those words after her first flush of writing success, and after the breakdown that culminated in a suicide attempt, and before she knew she would have another, bigger wave of writing success--indeed, before she had even written the works for which she is now most famous. She's identifying the separation between the joy of publishing, which is unpredictable, and the joy of creation, which is always within reach. 

Artists know, or soon learn, that the degree of effort is not always proportional to the degree of (outward) success, and nothing is guaranteed. The inevitable questions are: Why am I creating this? Who is it for?

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