March is sometimes characterized as “in like a lion and out like a lamb,” or vice versa. Either the end of winter or the beginning of spring. I’ve always thought that this inherent indecisiveness signaled the perfect time to read books. Lots of books! And not just the average sized book. I’ve always preferred large books with very small print which give you a chance to enjoy the environment within the book. Some of my favorite authors have been: James Fenimore Cooper, Joseph Conrad, Ayn Rand, Alexander Solzhenitsin, Allen Eckart, etc. All other books e.g. mysteries, spy novels, etc, are fillers between to provide a break or diversion; an abrupt change of mood, scene and environment; a sort of refresher before the next big adventure. This has been a pattern for most of my life, an attempt at order, organization, control, and even sanity when real life intrudes upon the creative process.
There is an exception, however. The science fiction genre stretches the limits of reason and order and reality, and sometimes pushes the creative process into overdrive. This is necessary in order to keep from getting bogged down in the past, which is a nice place to visit. All of the really great science fiction writers have now passed on into the extrapolations of their own work. Names like Arthur Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Van Vogt, Heinlein, Bradbury, etc. They all expanded the consciousness of many of their readers who have since caused the improbable to become probable or even realized. Most of the new writing in this genre is fantasy, and it doesn’t serve the same purpose or have the same impact that the original science fiction provided.
The newest science fiction seems to be virtual reality (for the moment), and is still being developed, and our global society is assisting in this development. But keep in mind that it was the great writers that made this leap ahead possible by expanding our collective consciousness, and it was done for the most part without illegal drugs which are debilitating and ultimately self-defeating. Think of some of the great “druggies” and their accomplishments, and realize how much more they could have accomplished with a fresh and active reality without the illusions provided by the drug of choice. Many of these innovators were and are musicians, writers, and artists of exceptional abilities who became limited either by their choices or their addictions. Both ways are unfortunate.
Creativity is a gift. It is not to be abused. Its muse is fickle. When its door is open, the artist must recognize that it is open and proceed accordingly. Most of the time there is only one opportunity. The creative mind must take nothing for granted – selectively absorbing, like a sponge, that which furthers the art, and, always, always, learning the new songs of life.