In the New York Time’s opinion piece, “Don’t Do It, Harper Lee”, Jessa Crispin shares, “For every late-career comeback that only further proves a person’s genius and worth — think of Coco Chanel’s coming out of roughly 15 years of retirement to dominate the Paris fashion scene once again — there are 20 people who fall on their faces and die before they can recover their footing.”
This week, the interwebs and literary world has been abuzz about rumors, intentions, excitement, and questions regarding Harper Lee’s release, “Go Set A Watchman” the author’s second book after the classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” I am not here to add more sugar to the mystery punch that this news has created but I would like to raise questions around how and why we create.
Jessa Crispin’s New York Time’s opinion piece does raise key points about our greed. Specifically, the fact that we can’t seem to be satisfied with one good thing but in fact, it seems that we must attempt to recreate the feeling or experience that washed over us with “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Reading her article did encourage a bigger question that I often ask myself as an artist.
Do we create for others or ourselves? If it is in fact for others that we create, do we limit that which we will share with the world? For example, there was a claim that Harper Lee was not going to release another book after her first (and very lucky) hit debut. According to Crispin, and I am sure others, this should be enough, why tempt or court the potential disaster of a failure.
Do we just let the world decide when, how, and if we create? If we are creating for ourselves, does it matter the number of accolades or recognition we receive? What is the true meaning or reason for our creating?
If we let social pressure set the pace, we might discover that there are rules, parameters and sometimes a price that one might have to pay for living inside of those constructs. Conversely, there is a price tag for not following the social floor plan in regards to creatively and many things. Unfortunately, this is the reason why we don’t always get a chance to bear witness to what has been created in many dark crevices of the world simply because it was not “discovered” or shared on a big enough scale.
Thus, There might be a song we have never or will never hear. A book that might not ever be published, a painting, a piece of choreography, and many other realms of art that we will never get to adventure to because of the social rules of engagement around such things. Keep in mind that there are many stories in the world of “almost” in which artists were ridiculed during their lives for daring and if it were not for chance happenings, there are minor and great works that we might not ever know about. So what do I say, go ahead and create.
In fact, you don’t have to be an artist to raise the question of how and why you choose to share what you share in the world whether it is a talent, skill, etc. Whatever you are choosing to contribute to the world may not be a history changing invention, your piece of art may not be an opus, or something that would set the internet afire like this news of Harper Lee’s “new” book, but at least you have created on your own terms.