Monday, March 14, 2011

How Long Will Your Creations Last?

As a youth, I spent many Saturdays exploring mountains and deserts with my friends.
Climbing cliffs, running from snakes, and hiking to hidden valleys and waterfalls was exciting, but nothing matched the fantastic discovery of petroglyphs. When I reflect back on those unique images and symbols carved into stone, I can’t help but relate them to my own endeavors as a writer.

Surviving the test of time.
The etchings are worn, some of them barely visible, and are clearly the work of someone from long ago. Despite time and the effects of nature, the results of that individual’s efforts are endearing. For a hundred miles in every direction, there’s only a handful of such creations. I can’t imagine that, in the day the petroglyphs were created, there were only one or two people willing to tell their story. Where are those other tales? The time it took to create a lasting image, I think, is the answer. Someone went through painstaking effort, spending days, weeks, or months, to show us the world through his or her eyes. It’s possible that others, with good intention, scratched a story into a leather hide or painted descriptions with brightly colored berries. Over time, their stories disappeared.

Sometimes artists are snared by the brilliance of popular fancy.
Because a theme or topic is selling hot, we are tempted to follow along and join the money grab. There’s nothing wrong if our created stories mirror what’s popular; I think that’s a dream scenario for any artist. If we don’t offer what people will buy, then we’ll never sell anything. On the other hand, what if the hearts of our stories are painted with the colors of the moment, instead of etched deeply into stone? Will those creations last?

One year from now, five years, and even fifty years from now, will your work stand the test of time? Have you perfected your craft through painstaking effort? Is your creation unique? I ask these questions because I hope I’m doing the right things to make my stories last.

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