Tonight I watched a documentary on photographer Sally Mann. I was surprised to discover that I share the same insecurities with this well known and established artist. It seems that artists create from within their own consciousness and at the same time yearn for the affirmation of others. In the course of filming the documentary one of her shows is canceled by the gallery. He is devastated. In her struggle to come to terms with her disappointment she concludes that they canceled her show because it wouldn’t make the gallery any money. She concedes that she knew for her first photograph that her exhibit wouldn’t make money, but she still had to explore her subject anyway. Her art was more for her journey than for public consumption.
All this leads me to wonder how and why we do art. I have yet to publish any of my stories, though not for lack of effort. I wonder if I shouldn’t self-publish. It would satisfy one of my goals, but it wouldn’t provide me with the affirmation I desire. All writers want to be read. Wandering through my local bookstore I see hundreds of authors who have succeeding in reaching the magical combination of publication and affirmation. I wonder what I need to do to achieve such a goal. Is my writing simply a personal journey or is there a hope that others may wish to join in my exploration?
While I’m on the subject, writing is more than just an solitary interaction with a page. It’s an invitation to others to participate. Good writing draws others into the conversation. Its asks questions of the read and invites their questions in return. Is writing incomplete if its never able to engage with the reader? In one sense I believe that it does. On the other hand the writer needs to write in order to fulfill some sort of personal desire.
It was good to see that I’m not the only one to struggle with these questions. What I lack are sufficient answers. In the meantime I continue to write in the hope that someday I’ll create something worth reading.