'Unless the work is the realization of the artist's gift and unless we, the audience, can feel the gift it carries, there is no art'.
Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World.
I believe that one of the greatest lessons in life is to learn how to accept a gift with grace and gratitude because in that acceptance lies the true art of giving. To deflect or deny a blessing, a compliment, a teaching, an act of kindness or a material gift, is to deny the giver and to deny yourself. It blocks the free flow of energy that is giving and receiving. Lewis Hyde wrote a wonderful book called, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, in which he explores the value of creativity and the idea that a gift must keep moving, though not necessarily in the same form. When I was a student in Sydney and found myself struggling financially, a friend gave me $200 to help me pay an essential bill. I was embarrassed and grateful, and told her that I would pay her back as soon as I could. 'No,' she said, 'I don't want the money back but perhaps one day you could do the same for someone else.' I found this profoundly moving. Instead of a debt she gave me a lesson in living and an opportunity to become a giver myself, not necessarily financially because we do not all have abundance in this area, but in whatever way I could. Since then I have tried to give to others, both through the cultivation of everyday compassion and through the telling of stories.
A few years ago in an interview with Boekenkrant in the Netherlands, I was asked if writers are special. I replied that 'we all tell stories. Stories are everywhere: in books, the cinema, television and the internet; passed around campfires; and swapped over coffee. . . . A writer consciously sets out to create stories but writers are not extraordinary. The stories they write are a gift, to them and to their readers. It is the responsibility of the writer to be true to themselves and to that which inspires them. Otherwise, I believe the only prerequisites for a writer are a love of language, a need to express themselves, self discipline and a fresh way of looking at the world. Everything else is technique and can be learned.'
There is an art and a craft of writing. In the craft of it lies the technical skills, the tools we need to produce a successful story or poem. Learning the craft is not always easy but it is fundamental because it enables expression. In the art of writing lies the gift. This gift is not ours to keep but rather to use as best we can, to hand on to others, for as Hyde writes, 'there is a sense that our gifts are not fully ours until they have been given away'. Recently I have been asking myself what it means to be a writer, and in an abrupt turn around a few days ago, I realised that I am not so much a writer as someone who seeks larger truths and that for me writing is a medium through which to express what needs expression and to seek what needs to be uncovered. Writing is a way of holding a mirror up to myself and in learning how to see myself, to then offer others the gift of seeing themselves. I have been blessed with an ability with language and bestowed with the gift of storytelling, so for me writing is my means of expression. What I have understood is that what is expressed is far more important than the medium through which it is expressed. Reaching out to help someone who is hurt, creating a business, singing a song or dancing a dance . . . these are mediums for creative expression. It is up to us what we express through them. Perhaps that is where our responsibility lies. A gift is a responsibility and it must be used. Hyde writes that, 'once a gift has stirred within us it is up to us to develop it. There is a reciprocal labor in the maturation of a talent. The gift will continue to discharge its energy so long as we attend to it in return.' In short, we must use it or lose it.
When we write we are inspired, a term that refers to a divine influence and to a drawing in of breath. When we are inspired we are breathing in the spirit of the gods. I am not a member of any religion but I do have a strong sense that the universe is a far deeper and more mysterious place than modern science would allow. My own experiences of the numinous are personal and profound, reinforcing this sense of mystery and creating a certainty that there is a deep connection between all of life. I have no doubt that writing is a gift that brings with it a responsibility. We must cultivate this gift and respect it. We must develop our understanding of the craft of writing to the best of our ability and be open to receiving the inspiration that turns our gift into art. In the acknowledgment section of my novels I am always moved to thank the giver. Once again I do so, with humility and a deep gratitude.
Have a joy filled Christmas.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Rosie Dub. All rights reserved. You may translate, link to or quote this article, in its entirety, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website:http://writeonthefringes.blogspot.co.uk/