On words alone

On words alone

Writing more than anything else is a way of clarifying one’s thoughts; the initial act is not for the reader:

[W]riting worth reading is the product, at least to some degree, of this extraordinarily intimate confrontation between the disorderly impressions in the writer’s mind and the more or less orderly procession of words that the writer manages to produce on the page.

But the negotiation of being “public” might change how writers feel about their own words:

Writing, initially a very private act, has the potential to become an overwhelmingly public act. …. But how a writer chooses to negotiate the transition between the privacy of writing and the publicness of reading will ultimately determine what kind of a writer he or she is. Writers who publish with small circulation magazines and tiny, non-commercial presses can sometimes achieve an astonishingly powerful presence, because they’ve acquired their readers gradually, incrementally, one by one. And the writer who begins with the big blastoff by the major New York publishing house can all too easily vanish.

What’s remarkable about these paragraphs is one can substitute “writing” with whatever craft you’re pursuing. Substitute “designing” in the above, for instance, and you have a different set of principles. The designer, the entrepreneur, the chef, the film critic, the tour guide — any person who makes things for people to consume — will, at one point, be asked to adjudicate how much is private and how much is public. Certainly, there are risks involved in the evaporating space between the creator and the public. But how a person chooses to negotiate these spaces is, in part, the product itself.