Create: Day 49
To envy, to sabotage, to lie and malign.
Titian. Tintoretto. Veronese. These three Renaissance painters’ artistic rivalry actually inspired an art exhibition last year in Boston. It’s always the conflicts that get the headlines. Even five centuries later.
Today I was thinking about envy, plagiarism, competition, sabotage and other such subjects. Not because it’s how I felt but because it’s how I don’t feel. You see, I’ve joined an online blogging community and I’ve felt part of one big happy family. We’re cheering each other on. Even though we’re doing similar things.
I attended a famed graduate school with many writers who ended up famous and successful. I felt happy for each of them. Except one.
I was reading the (bestselling) novel of this fellow student when my face turned red. The (bestselling) words sounded vaguely familiar. Why? Because these (bestselling) words were so similar to some (obscure) words of my own, words I’d written in an (obscure) short story, a story this particular (bestselling) writer had once cornered me in a bathroom to praise.
But you know what? These words comprised only one page out of two hundred (bestselling) pages. So who cares? Did this writer’s appropriation hurt me ? No. I’m the only one who noticed.
Here’s what I think: There’s enough success and money and fame and chocolate (and whatever else you desire) to go around. What hurts creatives is when we turn against each other. Is this point of view goody-goody?
Well, I’m no saint, and love gossiping about envy as much as the next gansta.
I devoured MaryMcCarthy’s novel The Group (among others) and as a young writer I was inspired by Lillian Hellman’s three memoirs. I had no idea a cat-fight was brewing. On Dick Cavett’s show in the 70s, McCarthy said of Hellman:
“every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.”
Hellman filed a lawsuit to the tune of $2.5 million. No one looked good in the back and forth that followed.
What about Lennon and McCartney? And the group Tom and Jerry? I mean, Tom and Jerry (who later renamed themselves Simon and Garfunkel) met in grade school, for heaven’s sake, and played opposite each other in a production of Alice in Wonderland. Guess who played the Cheshire cat?
And on the classical front, how about the dust-up between composers Handel and Johann Mattheson? In 1704, when Handel refused to slide off the keyboard bench and give way to Mattheson during an opera performance, Mattheson challenged him to a duel. The two drew swords. Supposedly only Handel’s metal buttons interceded to save his life. What goofs!
But I must admit, it’s the writers who really go at it.
Famed novelist Mario Vargas Llosa and Nobel winner Gabriel García Márquez were so close that Llosa wrote his doctoral thesis on his buddy. But in the 70s (an angry era for writers, obviously, even if we discount Mailer), Llosa punched Márquez in the face,
giving him a big shiner,
and they haven’t spoken since.
For a fabulous chapter on jealousy and how to deal with it, see the brilliant Anne Lamott’s brilliant book Bird by Bird.
Create Month 2
What to do so far:
In case you missed a day, the reminders below are clickable.
Don’t put off creativity.
Use your limited experience with unlimited imagination.
Don’t worry about the destination.
If you’re stuck, lower your standards and go on.
Take a creativity vacation.
Value your creative visions.
Moodle every other week.
Fill out Creative Project Completion Plan I.
Fill out Creative Project Completion Plan II.
Fill out Creative Project Completion Plan III.
Track project reality versus guesstimates.
Practice seeing creatively.
Keep a creative project box.
On the Ides, I’d rather be…
Your materials don’t make the masterpiece…you do.
Be creative 7 days a week.
Get happy…and more creative.
Don’t envy fellow creatives. Or get in a sword fight.