As Though Your Words May Die

All creative artists reach a point where they have to let go of their created work. Publish it, display it, sell it, screen it. Let it go.

For some artists an even deeper sense of abandonment is at play in their creative process.

Street Art: The Trojan Women
Street Art: The Trojan Women

Several years ago I attended a performance of Euripides’ The Trojan Women, his epic indictment of war written in 415 BCEOutside the black box theater, located in the arts district of LA, a street art mural publicized the current production. The artist – I don’t know who – created the piece knowing that it would only be there for a month or two, then be painted over for the next show’s ad.

Here are a few pictures of the street art. Can you see the desperation that the street artist captured? The dread, the bloody horror in the women’s eyes? The Trojan women’s nation had just been defeated in war. They lost their husbands and children. They faced a life of servitude.

A Trojan Woman - closeup
A Trojan Woman
Closeup of The Trojan Women
Closeup: A Trojan Woman

The artist knew going in that the art would be destroyed. It reminds me of the Zen monks who create intricate sand mandalas (paintings), only to ritually obliterate them, as a testament to the impermanence of life.

For a writer, this holds a lesson. Create with abandon. Let the abandonment free up the creative process. Don’t worry about whether your words will endure. Ray Bradbury once said, “In quickness is truth. The more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping.”

 

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