Here's the status update I wrote on Facebook:
"The next time I read a book I think is badly written, or not up to my standard, or sags in the middle, or whatever, I'm going to remind myself that what I'm reading is a person's attempt to create something. And that act of creation, that attempt alone is astonishing.We've left ourselves in a world that will tear apart anything that smells of novice. But we've got it wrong. We need more cheering sections and less critics. We need more pom-poms and less pomp.
I need to be that fanatic encourager, for the sake of the art, yes, but more for my own sake. When I cheer for others, the clouds break above my head and I can begin to see the world as limitless. I begin to see that I too can dare to create something. That we can all be astonishing."
The comments under the update were as interesting as I could have hoped for. People were quick to separate constructive critique (which we strongly believe in) from criticism--the kind of negative review that is all scathe and no insight--which is an important distinction. I was gratified to read the conversations that took place around this topic (I often lose control of my FB wall and it is taken over by people who have conversations with each other. I enjoy this very much).
The main point, however, is the emphasis on creation. The act of creating is, to many artists, sacred. A kind of sanctified place, if not utterly holy at least butting up against the edge of it. We employ this perspective frequently when we ourselves are writing--creating--and later when we feel the burn once the book is handed over to an editor, knowing it will not be spared the knife. I love everything about these moments of creation, editing--remodelling, recreating--precisely because I feel apart of something larger than myself.
Too often, I forget the cosmic-closeness feeling when I pick up someone else's novel. I ignore the fact that this writer too fell into the pool of creativity and taught herself to swim. Instead, I can be quick to criticize her stroke. I forgive my own flailing, my own ragged gasps as I nearly drowned in the eddy of hopeful creation, yet I press the other writer to impress me a deftness I myself do not possess.
And that is where my Carpe Annum lies. Part of how I plan to seize 2013 and make it my own is to promise myself that I will never forget the wonder, the astonishment of the creative act no matter who is creating. I love and respect story. That means, by extension, I love and respect those who work to create story.
Love and respect. We can all be astonishing.
That's my Carpe Annum promise.
Tell us how you plan to Carpe Annum.