Salinger – In his final interview, given in 1980, he said: “There’s a marvellous peace in not publishing.
“When you publish, the world thinks you owe something. If you don’t publish, they don’t know what you’re doing. You can keep it for yourself.”
I think this thought by Salinger is quite fascinating. After all most solitary creative types such as poets, writers, painters, sculptors and other similar mediums tend to create for themselves. That is they have a particular vision or message they are trying to communicate or represent. As soon as you share that work with others it is no longer solely your vision or message, it is also that of the reader or viewer. That does not diminish your message but it certainly does make it something quite different. No matter what you create, though you can see yourself very clearly in it, there will definitely be a distortion from what is voiced to what is perceived. Then it is no longer you that is on that page or canvas but rather an individual reflection of you, being recreated every time it is viewed anew. If you are creating something for an audience then you are not independent and that voice is not completely yours. Or as Salinger put it “the world thinks you owe something”.
It is very tough to write for yourself. Once you have put something out there or have been published then suddenly you are writing for an audience. There are expectations on you and or the characters you have created. There are expectations on the story or the message. You start to think of how your writing may be perceived and that in itself will change your true message. It takes a great deal of discipline to write for just yourself, but it is the only true way to reflect yourself. I find sometimes it helps to write with just one person in mind as an audience if that is necessary. For the more you broaden that audience the tougher it is to write and be yourself. Although it is easy to have the philosophy that you would just write what is inside of you, putting that into practice is beyond most of us a good amount of the time. It is not to say it cannot be done, and perhaps even having that expectation is unrealistic. I guess in the long run you have to be as true to yourself as you can be.
The thing is I don’t believe we ever tell the whole story anyway. First of all we can only tell the story from our point of view, it will always be one-sided. It is based on our perceptions of the world and events and even more tenuously on our memory of the events. The second is I think we always hold something back just for ourselves. We hold back those pieces that are dear and precious to us. If we don’t reveal the pieces of the story that touch us the deepest then we certainly aren’t telling the whole story, or at least we aren’t reflecting ourselves in that story. Ultimately I think we have to tell our story for if we don’t it will never live. Though I suppose we can just tell that story to ourselves or our pets if they promise not to repeat it.
Another thing I was pondering on my long walk in the chilly air was about how I am always reluctant to ask any question I do not believe I will like or be able to accept the answer to. Somehow I think I am protecting myself by not knowing. The thing is the only thing that gives us freedom is knowing, and accepting the answer no matter what it turns out to be. We should not deign to know what the answer will be, for we cannot answer for anyone but ourselves. We do not know for certain what is in other people’s minds. Not knowing the answer actually keeps us anchored to the question for eternity. We are able to handle any outcome if we trust ourselves. It seems very strange the we have faith in many things we have never experienced; we just trust that they are as they appear to be. We have faith that the experiences of others are truth as well. We don’t seem to have a lot of faith in ourselves though, and that is all we can truly know from moment to moment. We fear losing things, even things we don’t have. You can only lose yourself though, as that is all you truly own. The key is to not lose yourself, keep exploring.