Recently I was talking with a musician friend about artist communities. The conversation came up because he was telling me about how he occassionally feels sabotage efforts coming from other artists; whether they are intentional or not is hard to tell. Not all the time but just the occassional negative act that changes the dynamic of what you want or expect in a community of your creative peers. And I retold some experiences I've had with writers/artists becoming very competitive, if you can find a writing community in the first place. Which has always been my frustration, finding a group of writers to regularly share critique with. Then another friend, a true graphic artist, mentioned how she looked to other artists to learn from but sometimes they were loathe to share their knowledge. Despite these negative experiences, I still strongly believe in and support communities of artists. In fact, even our very bitching, across different genres, constitutes an artist community. We get to vent, we get to share ideas, and we get support.
That brought me, in a roundabout way, to the myth of the remote cabin. You know, it's the idea for writers that you should go off into the woods so you can "work without distractions"? (It's very popular in movies, usually to the benefit of some deranged killer or other.) And while it is a really tempting proposition – who wouldn't want to get away from the every day items that piss you off, take up time, drag you down, and generally distract you from creating? – in reality I don't think it works. I think it's a great idea, but I've found when I'm alone too much my creative inspiration starts to dry up. I start to feel stifled instead of liberated, and trapped by expectation, and god forbid you get writer's block when you're by yourself. I get so many ideas and incentive from talking with/reading/listening to other creative people I can't imagine working in a bubble of isolation. And I constantly crave feedback and critique; I think it helps me grow. Maybe this is just the way I personally work. Even though sometimes I do long for isolation… it sounds wonderful! Getting to write first thing in the morning instead of fixing breakfast for a kid with pink eye and cleaning up cat puke (insert your personal pain in the ass routines here), why wouldn't that sound great? But then there are those other times when I am so inspired and encouraged by interacting with others (even remotely through books or viewing art) that I decide to stay in the ring of shared community – even if the distractions dramatically cut down my time to write.
So that made me wonder, since all bloggers are essentially writers, who may be creating other art as well, and they are part of blogging communities, what are your preferences? Communities or cabins? What makes you feel the most inspired and/or the most likely to finish your projects?
And I guess an even more relevant question when it comes to blogging… does sitting in front of a computer make you feel more or less isolated? Could the Internet be a log cabin?