Lauren Camp’s excellent blog is no longer active, so I’ll be re-posting some of my favorites for all of you readers.
I’ve been emailing with an editor/friend about how living in quiet places gives space for our own writing. But, too, one could have the sense of missing something grander. What about all the amazing activities that are happening in more urban arenas? Should we be amidst such seductions, he seemed to wonder.
Maybe another question is — can we do without? Is without better — or worse?
Israeli modernist poet Yehuda Amichai, in an interview in The Paris Review), explained his perspective on this very subject: “I live in Jerusalem, which compared to Tel Aviv is not very artistic at all. Tel Aviv is a very vivid city, very alive, and most of the action in literature, theater, journalism, publishing, painting, photography, cinema is in Tel Aviv. Jerusalem is a closed environment, there is very little artistic activity, which is why I like living there. I keep very much to myself there, as everyone does…”
I spent my childhood on the outskirts of Manhattan. We went into the city periodically for theater shows and meals. Later on, I worked in the city for a summer during college. The city was exotic, dramatic, excessive. There was such a pull to be amidst it all, the endless activities, day and night. Theater, music, dance, art…
Looking at that lifestyle now, as a writer and artist needing to focus on my own work, I think this would be too much for me. Creativity is a sort of job, and people who follow its path need time and their own psychological spaces.
My home now is between two small cities, which both offer so many good cultural opportunities that I periodically feel guilty for staying home. But in truth, I like picking and choosing what to do. I like choosing to stay in my studio, or my living room, to write, to explore my own consciousness, to sometimes be shut off from what is around me. I like turning the quiet into my own noise and activity: a seduction that I create from my language and my hands.