Another friend, another conversation.
Him: "I feel like too much of my creativity is transient and lost because it goes into games [that is, RPGs], though I'm reasonably certain that's just a matter grass, fences, and greenness."
Self: "I've been wrestling with this myself — whether creativity is something that's meant to create permanent artifacts or transient experiences."
A day after typing those words, the inherent false dichotomy of such a statement fairly hit me in the face. It's not that creativity has to result in one or the other: a book can be as transient an experience as it is a permanent thing, especially since you can only read a book for the first time once. Was it one of my English professors who said he would give anything to be able to read King Lear for the first time again? I think it was; I suggested to him that he should see Ran as a possible way to do that.
Every book I've written, or will write, is meant to exist in two incarnations: as a wad of paper with ink marks on it (and a digital file), and as an experience. I have a lot less control than I might think over how it unfolds as an experience, something hammered rather brutally home when a prospective reader found one of my books completely uninteresting. Not a thing I could do about it save nod and remind myself not everything is for everyone.
Is either one — artifact or experience — better than the other? I sided with the artifact, because I felt at least then I had something I could fall back on and point to as proof of my hard work. But I get just as jealous sometimes of those who do their work and go, and leave no traces except in the form of a good time that was had by all. I know, in the end, there shouldn't be a dichotomy — and I suspect there isn't one, except of course in my mind. But that in turn makes the challenge of pledging allegiance to the artifact, as it were, all the tougher.