Hemingway once noted to the effect how he loved being a writer, but that the paperwork killed him, and I definitely identify with that. As I continue to grapple with the act of creating, I have been thinking a great deal about what that act is, and what it feels like. There is nothing easy about creating a work of literature, music, or art. Ease in creation belongs to God alone, for mortals it entails the pain of labor and the ability to feel – feel a good many things both pleasant and unpleasant, while remaining constantly mindful so that the thing created does not become unwieldy or nonsensical.
This is why it has occurred to me that the creative process is extrusive in nature. To extrude, is to force something out. Extrusion, in a manufacturing context involves pressing a material, metal for example, using incredible force through a die to create the finished product. Copper pipe is made through the extrusion process, where the solid metal is pressed through a circular die to create the pipe. The die determines the shape and diameter of the pipe. Creation is similar, the raw material of ideas, paint, or musical notes are pressed through the die, which I take to be the artist’s conception of his work, to produce the creation in its final form.
Extrusion as a creative act is both measured and forceful, a product of tremendous effort and focus to forge the creation from the raw material of ideas and inspiration. While artists, writers, and musicians may seem to be an eccentric bunch, they must possess discipline and control in order to create anything of value. If their work is of any enuring quality, if their creation has any chance of surviving them it must possess this extrusive quality. The emotive, affective, and intellectual inspiration that lies behind and within their work can only be felt and appreciated by those of us who benefit from their creations if it was pressed through their conceptual die with force and pressure. I am convinced this is why we can feel what Van Gogh sought to capture in his paintings, what Beethoven sought to evoke in his symphonies, what Keats communicated in his poetry.
I think this lends gravity to the act of creation, and presents a daunting challenge for those inclined to create. Creation isn’t easy, and most artists concede that there is an element in their work that is inseparable from themselves as creators. Rarely, if ever is art the byproduct of pure and instantaneous inspiration. Of course inspiration lies behind all good art. But, this inspiration is extruded through the creative process where the artists thoughts, feelings, hopes, and aspirations that may originate in that eternal realm of ideas are pressed through the die, and with it the artist may feel that he is pressed with them in order to arrive at the final work.
So, I must remind myself that this painful process of extrusion is part and parcel of the writers journey to create something that can be rightfully called art. For my friends that write and create, I offer this simple encouragement: embrace extrusion. There is a price to be paid to create anything of worth, but that precious price is what gives us a voice in the world, and the privilege of enriching the lives of those who enjoy our work.