The Solitude of Creation / by Jeannine Cook

Yesterday, I attended a gathering to celebrate the launching of a new book by Robert Coram, a very talented and successful author who spends time in McIntosh County. Entitled Brute. The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine, it is the biography of a legendary hero in the Marine Corps. Published by Little, Brown and Company, the official publication date is November 10th, the 235th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps.

During the short speech Robert made, he talked of the solitude of creation, the long hours he had spent in his studio here on the Georgia coast whilst writing this book. He intimated that the transition to public persona when a book appears is a difficult passage. He is now beginning the book tours, the speeches, the book review process - the antithesis of the lonely creative work.

I reflected that so much creative work necessitates this dedicated solitude. As a visual artist, I know that producing art - and especially trying to create good work - completely precludes a social life style. The hours needed to work are precious and require jealous guarding against intrusions from people, phones and the distractions of daily life. Every artist learns to programme life so that time to work does not get whittled away. Of course there is time and opportunity to "join the outside world" on occasions, but when a project is underway, solitude is vital. I have always found it interesting to note how many very successful artists are single... there is thus less danger of creative energies being drained away. And even those with partners are frequently blessed with people who understand this need to work alone and be periodically obsessed by what is being created.

This solitude tends to be one of the hallmarks of a serious artist, writer or other creator. Otherwise, books would not get written, poetry or drama would not appear, music would remain silent and the arts would not get produced. Yet, interestingly, once the creative solitude has yielded its fruit, that creation requires the presence of other people - the public in some form - to complete the circle and render the work launched and thus alive.

Robert Coram is the perfect example of how dedicated, organised and creative solitude yields wonderful results. As an artist, I am so glad to be reminded by him that I need to be serious about ensuring I have similar solitude on occasions. Not always easy to achieve, but definitely something to try to do!