beccaelizabeth (beccaelizabeth) wrote,
beccaelizabeth
beccaelizabeth

Immortality and creativity

There was a thing at Redemption in part about how Immortality might not in fact be a good thing. Which always pisses me off. But it's that Highlander Claudia Jardine thing where she says she can only feel the music if she fears death, plus the idea that we need that ultimate deadline to make us ever finish something.

And, no? I mean I've heard the poetry teacher say that everything is eventually about sex or death, but it was bollocks then too. Humans have feelings for a wide variety of reasons? Humans have feelings about cupcakes and quesadillas and beer. I'm reasonably sure there's some really ancient poetry about beer.

And as for needing the deadline or we'll fiddle with it forever... look, my WIP folder is a graveyard of yesterday's dreams, but what twenty, possibly thirty years of such things has taught me is: you can only write *that* story today. The one in your head right now, the one with the vivid mature characters who act just like real humans as you recognise them right now? You can write that today. Because in five, ten, fifteen years you'll look back on it and wonder what you were thinking. You'll have moved on. Your understanding will have moved on. Your tastes will have moved on. I mean I've always been more of a Giles or Methos fan, but I couldn't from here write a Xander or Richie as sexy if I'd only just met them. I could remember how they used to look to me, but new people that age are just... young. And that's the tiniest part of it. And it isn't - it is not - simply that you understand better now. Every generation complains olds don't remember being youngs, and they've got a bit of truth in that. Every generation was only young in their own context too. We can remember, we can imagine, but there's always stuff we just won't know from here, and did then.

So that story in your head? Write it today. It'll be a whole different story tomorrow, as a different person writes it.

... and if I took my own advice more often the story graveyard would be a bit less tragic, obviously.

But the other thing is sex. Or intercourse, shall we say. Story is one fraction of the ways humans connect and are in conversation with each other. People still make art in reaction to the art of thousands of years ago, but it's different art than it would have been last century, because that conversation has moved on. The deadline isn't just people getting dead, it's story getting born. How many times have we raced to publish before the next episode jossed us? How many stories get irrelevant a season or two along? How many dead fandoms would not be waiting for your input any more, so the story just never gets told? We might write for ourselves, but we publish to connect, converse, communicate. We're not just making words, we're making communities.

So the kind of person who would take forever seeking perfection, they exist, because there's seven billion people and there's always one of anyone. But they've got to be outnumbered by the prolifically creative, the exuberant profusion, the back and forth. Even just the people who'll throw a hundred pots looking for the good one, instead of fiddling around with their first. And we can teach people to be that, even against their anxious inclination, just by encouragement and feedback.

I've seen people say they write like death's on their tail, because it has been trying to eat them all their lives. And they write beautiful and brilliant things, and maybe that makes that kind of fear look useful. But I've seen more cut off in the middle of things, or writing despite the deadly grind, writing as they can between hospital visits until you hear the worst and realise that WIP will never update again.

So don't tell me about the benefits of mortality. It might feel more cosy to think we wouldn't want the impossible things anyway, but I'd rather think big. Want. Dream. Write as if we'll all be here to feedback for a thousand years. Because it's not the thought of death that keeps us going, it's the thought of all the dreams we could be having, and sharing with all these people around here.

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Tags: meta, philosophy
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