What's Important 4: The Zen of Art

Note: A few years ago I wrote a series of pieces on "What's Important." They got a decent amount of traffic on my old blog, so I've decided to re-run them on my new site.

I envy LARPers.

For those that don't know, LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing.  In almost all incidents that I know of, the role playing involves Dungeons and Dragons style fantasy worlds.

Here, watch the trailer for Darkon to get a better idea:

There are a lot of people out there who probably mock the hell out of these people.  After all, they're waging fake war on each other over fakes lands using fake weapons.  But I think the people who make fun of them are missing the point.

For LARPers, this is enough.  The fantasy is real enough for them that it fills a void.  They embrace the experience for all its worth and it makes them happy.

I posted something a while back about writing and how it torments me and it's really hard and really fulfilling and how I'm constantly seeking something greater for my writing.  I found that the responses I got to the blog post fell within two camps: 1) I know your pain and 2) what the hell are you talking about, writing is sweet.

The latter group of people are very similar to LARPers; the process itself is enough.  They can fully submerge themselves and enjoy the creative release for what it is.  I think that is absolute genius.

The question, then, is what's the deal with the former group.  Why do I need to be published?  Why do I desire to write for a living?  Why is writing such a struggle?  Why does it make me nearly as miserable as it does happy?

I have just listed four questions that I have no real answer for.

I mean, obviously, my desire to write for a living stems from the fact that, as painful as it can be, writing is still the work that brings me the most joy.  It's also, I think, the thing that forces me to use the talents I have, which is not something I get in my every day world.

As pretentious as this may sound, I suppose there's a certain element of the tortured artist at work.  There's a more-substantial-than-I-want-to-admit part of me that desperately wants validation for what I'm doing which, in turn, is validation of me.  Sadly, these days that validation comes in the form of book sales or, at the very least, a book deal.  It comes when someone says you're good enough that you can make this your career.

That's what it comes down to, it seems: validation.  Those people in Darkon don't need it, at least not from the rest of us.  They probably know they'd never get it, anyway, but they don't really care.  What they have is enough.

That's what's eluded me all this time, that feeling that what I have is enough.  But I think I'm starting to get there.

And, as you may have noticed, this "What's Important" series seems to be part of this process.