The Risk of Art
Being faced with an empty piece of paper is a very frightful sight. There’s no saying what will come out, what will be written. Will it be any good? Is there any way of knowing? Is there any point in writing if you don’t know for sure that it will be a marvelous thing? I think starting is the most difficult thing there is. Probably in any area and domain of life.
Creative undertakings are the most frightful and difficult precisely because every single time you sit down to write something, a poem, an essay, a song, you always start with a blank page. You always start with nothing, from scratch. It can be daunting. I would argue that it feels so intimidating that few people muster the courage to even start.
Other activities are far more forgiving and comforting. They may pose difficulty at the onset, as you familiarise yourself with the task. But, in time, it becomes second nature. In time, it becomes routine and the unpleasant feeling of stepping into the unknown fades away, leaving no remnant of how it used to be; perhaps only a faint memory. Routine takes over and saves you from uncertainty. The unknown becomes smaller and smaller and what you know expands.
I don’t think there’s ever a time when a creative act gets stripped of uncertainty. Creativity involves voluntarily stepping into the unknown. The artist does so it can bring to light something unseen before. So that everyone may benefit from this uncertain expedition, it must be shared with the community — in this day and age, the world. This further complicates things and exacerbates the initial uncertainty. First, there is the risk of adventuring in the unknown with no certainty if what you’ll bring back is a thing of value and beauty. Then there is the risk of being harshly judged by the people who see your work as a criticism of their status quo.
So what’s the point then? Why do it? Do you do it because it’s altruistic and accept the consequences? Sorta like the Hebrew prophets, most of whom didn’t end up well? I think the only reason to create, to venture into the unknown and transmute darkness into art is that you feel compelled to do so.