I’ve been a fan of Kate Bush for some time now. For some reason over the last three days I’ve been particularly fascinated by her work, watching documentaries and music videos and interviews with her. The thing that I found interesting was the way music commentators described her as being a ‘fully-formed’ artist from her musical debut. The inference I think was that she came out of the womb as the creative force we see and know and love today. This was despite the fact that the same documentary alluded to her artistic development; to her learning the piano and the violin from an early age, her studying dance, her writing songs from a very young age, her EMI ‘Artist Development’ deal, and a wealth of support from her parents (her father was typically the first audience for her early works) and family friends. To me this demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the creative process as a process.
In the same documentary the same commentators suggested her Hounds Of Love album was her greatest and most complete work. They went further to suggest that the reason for this was because after being hurried on earlier projects, being constrained by time and the expense of studios and equipment, she built her own home studio. Here she could work at her own pace, here she could entertain creative whims and take artistic risks. The difference here was time. Because ideas – and artists – go through a period of gestation, and creativity and art take time.
In a similar vein, Mur Lafferty in her most recent podcast ISBW #133 – You’re allowed to suck / Anders and Defendini Interview:
You’re allowed to suck in your first draft but you’re also allowed to suck at the beginning of your career. Now I haven’t read the book yet but I have heard many people mention the Malcolm Gladwell book that talks about how you need to have 10,000 hours of doing something before you’re a master. And a lot of people have said ‘You don’t want to sell your first novel.’ And some outspoken agents on Twitter have even said ‘Don’t send me your NaNoWriMo novel.’ NaNoWriMo probably says, ‘we are all about quantity over quality. The goal is to get the book on the page, after that fix it. Or make it longer. Or learn how to write a book.’
I think one problem novice writers have is we believe every idea we have is a perfect snowflake that must go out to the world. This is what causes people to work on a book for 20 years. It’s what causes people to freak out when they’re rejected, and not think, ‘okay, well if this story or book has been rejected 50 times maybe I should put it aside and write something else.’