This is a rant. It will probably offend a lot of people. Too bad.
I just came across this quote by Julia Cameron on someone’s blog:
“We should write because it is human nature to write. Writing claims our world. It makes it directly and specifically our own. We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance as well.” The Right to Write
So what’s wrong with that? Probably mostly me, being excessively offended. But, like most quotes that make people all melty and dewey-eyed, it’s a personal statement that the woman insists on applying to everybody. Even if it wasn’t offensive for its pseudo-spiritual, pop psychology, New Agey vaporings, it would be offensive on that basis alone.
No, it isn’t human nature to write. In fact, writing seems to be gifted to very few people. And the world would probably be better off if it were fewer still. There — I’m an elitist on top of all my other faults.
If you’re religious, and believe in the power of prayer and meditation, then Cameron’s attitude may be good news. But not all humans are spiritual beings. I doubt that many are, in reality, but most think they are because they’ve been immersed in that kind of thinking since early childhood. You might also call it brainwashing if you want to be exact.
Me? I’m a rationalist, an atheist through and through. For me, spirituality is a function of the brain, no different from any illusion created by any one of a wide variety of emotional and psychological states. The very idea of my writing being considered a form of prayer or a seeking for “inner guidance” is almost nauseating in its implications. People like Cameron apparently can’t exist without giving their striving a “higher meaning.” The pleasures of creativity simply aren’t enough for them. But such a notion is going to appeal to every would-be creative who needs justification for their efforts. I suspect that she’s most popular with people who either never manage to get around to writing, or to finishing anything, or who find that they lack the talent to stand out. It’s a form of pie in the sky for the pie-deprived.