As both a writer and a performer, the tension between the act of creating and the performing of the created piece is an often complex one.
As a writer, I like to dig inwards, to go deep into the spaces between words and try and arrive at something that might be called a truth, of sorts. What you unearth when you're in there is the pure stuff, the raw art. It's shaped on the page as a gem might be cut and set, or a precious metal is melted and wrought.
Once it's done, you can stand back and admire your work, and love it, and that might be enough, for some. But perhaps you might believe that such beauty ought to be shared with the world 'out there': either for confirmation of its beauty, or out of a sense of duty to yourself, or the work, or to humanity at large. And here is where the tension lies. You could jealousy guard your precious things from the public gaze like Tolkein's Smaug, but to what end? You may protect yourself and the work from the taint of opinion and the possibility of criticism, but without sharing it, your great work ceases to exist to anyone but you.
The purity (a problematic term in and of itself) of a personal endeavour must be sacrificed in order for it to have any true meaning in the greater context, that is to say, life; and even then the context of 'life' is narrow in the greater scheme of things. When you begin to apply variables like culture, language, race, sex, economic class, literacy (or lack thereof) and the simple fact that 'art' in whatever form, is viewed as an absolute luxury to the vast majority of this planet's inhabitants, you start to watch this beautiful thing you're so proud of and that is so important to you, diminish in your very hands.
When something created is shared - whether on a global or local level - it begins to breed meaning beyond its creator's intent, as the minds that consume it bring their own truths to meet yours, and there they fight, or fall in love, or ignore each other completely. And you have absolutely no control over it. Am I suggesting that artists are control freaks? Possibly. And I use the 'artist' term expansively. You could have built a financial company and be an artist. You may be the owner of a sweet shop and still be an artist. You could be an athlete, or care for animals. Artists both. If you are doing what you love, you are an artist.
But likewise if you are doing what you love, you may be a little precious. You may be careful. You may have an instinct to protect your baby, to keep it swaddled and safe and out of the reach of the jealous gaze of the world. But to do so would not only deprive the world, it would deprive you and the baby itself, who came to you with the explicit purpose of entering the world at large, and not just your own. Your baby, your art, your work, that thing that you love, was made with passion, and as Isabel Allende, one of my favourite writers, impresses so elegantly in this TED talk, what the world needs more of, is passion.
What is your passion? Are you living what you love? And if you are lucky enough to venture a 'yes', are you brave enough to share it?
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RM Clarke is a writer and voice-over artist. She has written for various literary mags and anthologies and won awards. She has put her voice to most things she can think of.