This excerpt is from Colum McCann’s discussion that is printed at the end of his novel, Let The Great World Spin. Wonderful book, by the way. I enjoyed his discussion as much as I enjoyed the book.
He said it as well as I can. Actually, he said it better, because he’s a writer. These two points I find so familiar:
1) We don’t always know what we’re doing, and much of it is instinct. What he doesn’t say is that sometimes it’s difficult to hear the faint voice of instinct. I know that I have to listen carefully, and not get lost in all the other noise.
2) The book (or painting) is finished by the reader (or viewer). I do believe this about my own work. I don’t feel that my pieces are finished without interaction with a viewer. Occasionally that sole viewer is me, but more often it is someone other than me. This isn’t to say that I do the work with a viewer in mind, but once I send a piece out into the world it acquires new meaning, something other than what I intentionally put into it.
Richard Diebenkorn had some good things to say about the creative process, but that’s a post for another day. You can see the interview here, though, if you can’t wait.