Careful Crafting and the Mozart Theory of Creativity

As an opinionated wag (and I’ve been that forever), a lover of words and someone with a head full of ideas, I’ve long held the belief that a good story can sprout from one’s brain with little or no anguish as to the finished product. An embarrassing amount of my published work has been never been edited. I’ve been able to write in just such a way ever since I picked up a pencil.

Let’s call it the Mozart Theory of Creativity.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an amazing composer, pumped out a wealth of music in his short time on earth. A precocious child, he began writing music while still a toddler. I’m not talking tra-la-la nursery school level pieces. These are short ditties I had a hard time mastering when I first took up violin. Mozart’s genius was so great, it is said he penned  his many works without a single re-write. Imagine. Without a single re-write? And when you listen to his work, it’s intricate, God-like, perfect. What’s to re-write?

Many artists including writers suffer from the Mozart Theory of Creativity. They are so invested in their work, they believe it sprouts from the mind in flawless condition ready for mass consumption.

But it’s not so easy.

As a high school student, I thought I was damned good artist. I had my own ideas and was loathe to listen to my teacher (sorry, I forgot his name). Then I went to college and learned there were lots of good artists. Scores. More than I thought.

I had two options. One was to continue on my own path and produce the same doodles I had been making for years. My creations were good enough as they were, damn it! Or were they? The other option was to listen to my professor when he suggested different approaches to my work and consider other perspectives. Guess which path I chose?

I am finding it’s not much different in writing now that I’ve finished my novel and have dived into the re-write.

My story was complete, not perfect, but I thought it was good enough. Or close to good enough.

I was wrong. Thank goodness I have a posse of writing friends who have gently nudged me into looking at my work and pointed out my flaws. Thank goodness for the writers conference I attended. It opened my eyes to a wealth of possibilities and energized me. And thank goodness for the Internet and all of great blogs and web sites I’ve found devoted solely to my task at hand: The Re-Write.

Not everyone is Mozart. In fact, there was no one like him before or after. I’ve read many books on my favorite composers, and all of them suffered a great deal of angst over careful crafting of their work. Sometimes symphonies were tweaked for years before being played in public.

There’s a certain amount of agony that goes into creating anything beautiful.

That’s where I am now.

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2 Responses

  1. There’s a reason why so many very talented people end up drug addicts, alcoholics, suicides, and just plain loony-tunes. Genius is stressful.

  2. Best of luck with your novel. I’ll see you in St. Louis at a book signing in a couple of years.

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