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November 23, 2015 / catherinebwrites

The Golden Bubble -3

Writer Anna Piaggi, colourful, vibrant and blinding!


Writers are different from ordinary folk.

And I’m just ordinary folk!***

We in the West believe that artists are different from us.   They’re touched by the gods. They can be drunkards, take drugs, be rude, take lovers, abandon children, have temper-tantrums but that’s O.K. because they create works of genius.  Therefore it follows that you have to be slightly mad to be an artist and seriously mad to be a great artist.

Oh please!

There was a time when every artist needed  a patron to earn a living, a King, a prince, a rich Aristocrat.   They weren’t mad then, they were servants.   And that’s how they were treated.  Mozart had to eat in the servant’s hall and when Michelangelo took to Art for a living, his Dad was horrified.

Then along came the Revolutions: Industrial, French and American. “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”were the buzz words.   Words that excited the young and terrified Princes.  Aristocrats were no longer the only ones with money.   Wealthy merchants  got titles. Aristocrats started writing and painting. The Romantic Movement began and the notion of the artist as a solitary genius wrestling his demons was born.  And that notion still wafts about at the back of or minds today.   I blame Lord Byron!

But have you been to Bali?  Some of you must have.   Everyone on that island is an artist… it’s no big thing.  In one village everyone paints pictures, in another they are all dancers, in another they are sculptors of stone, or they make batik or they carve wood or they play music or they’re skilled puppeteers.   To live a harmonious life, they say, you spend time every day , time doing physical work, time doing something creative and time relaxing and having fun.   It makes total sense.   I just wish I could do it!   Life gets in the way… however, I think of the the Balinese way as a beacon to aim for.

Certainly there are mad geniuses who are writers and artists and the media loves them. But there are also mad genius doctors and diplomats, teachers, waiters, plumbers and layabouts.   Except you don’t hear about them.

You don’t need to be mad to be creative.   You do need desire and the willingness to learn.   And, if on top of that, you a have talent… well…

The boring truth is … most writers live ordinary lives, wear ordinary clothes, pay the mortgage, raise their children and mow the lawn like everyone else.

*** See The New Yorker (June14 & 21 ‘04), article by Joan Acocella

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