As I walked this morning, I was thinking about the book I was writing and the books other people have written (specifically Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book which is outstanding and masterful) – and the editing process that surrounds them. I pretty quickly made the leap to the copywriting work that I do – and the editing process that surrounds them.
In each case, the writer/artist begins with a pure moment of production unfettered by anyone esle’s opinions. Or does s/he? Are there thoughts always lingering in the back of the mind about what the editor, readers, customers, clients, boss wants? And if not, certainly the inner editor is there.
Many of us have been lucky, we’ve had those moments. Those beatific dips in the space-time continuum when the words gush in a direct beam from mind to paper (er, keyboard). And in those moments, the editorial thoughts are silent.
Which got me thinking about Shakespeare. He didn’t have an editor at Harper Collins breathing down his neck or telling him that the story would work better if only Juliet was hanging out of her window instead of standing on her balcony…right? Of course, he did have the Queen and the theater owners to contend with (yes, I saw Shakespeare in Love, too).
But imagine him before he actually became Shakespeare. For that matter, imagine us before we had bills to pay or dreams of fame and repute.
Is this what we should be striving for? Writing for the love of writing? Purely that?
Of course we should…
When I got to my computer, post-walk, I had an email directing me to Chris Brogan’s latest blog post (actually he wrote it yesterday but I only got it today because Feedburner sucks). In it, he urges us to “work backwards” – it’s a wonderfully inspiring article that supports the wackiness of my work life. He writes:
In the beginning, you might feel a bit uncertain. Try things out. Build secret labs. Run things by friends. Then, don’t listen to what they say. You think visionaries have safety nets and advisory boards and case studies?
Someone had to hunt the first mammoth.
That’s right, I thought. Someone, or some people, wrote before there were bosses and editors and clients and customers. When they wrote because they were called to create and share. Because they couldn’t resist.
So. Can we clear our minds, in whatever pursuit we’re engaged, and – essentially – go back?
Image courtesy of gadl