Knickerbocker Hotel
New York City      
July 24, 1938      
      . . . Strangely enough, having grown extremely sour on the subject of writing––which must be worn off one way or another––I took a brush in hand. I am somewhat astounded to see what can be done with watercolor. Of all the mediums, Matt said it was the one I should not tackle first so, of course, I tackled it. My draftsmanship isn’t bad at all and my composition seems to be pretty good. It bears out my contention that medium doesn’t matter when a guy is bound and determined to walk into the creative fields. The pity of it in this case is that I waited so darned long before I began to study such things. Of course this painting is a momentary release but just the same it is most exciting. I finally figured out what was this thing called the creative instinct. God probably creates energy. Man converts energy only. With energy God creates all manner of things. And because every form of life is somehow a duplication of the Self, then man begins to approach God’s function when he sets out and creates wholly from the stuff of which dreams are made. In other words the approach to godliness does not lie behind the altar but in the province of creation itself. Hence man’s excitement at creating anything from ditches to art...

      Thus, we can follow out along that line of reasoning and arrive at some very interesting conclusions which indicate a great many apparently disharmonious elements in living.

      I smear some paint on a sheet of paper. I put a soaring plane on the lip of a scud cloud and crack the lightning inside the cloud and light up the earth with greenish-yellow tones and label the picture “Excitement.” Or I take a man and a horse and a woman and weave them together to construct activities in a world which is existing nowhere but in my own brain. Capturing my own dreams in words, paint or music and then seeing them live is the highest kind of excitement just so long as any of these things are wholly mine, untrammeled by other opinions and unchanged by other hands. A writer is furious “beyond all reason” to have an editor change a single word of his text. But now I think I know the reason. The editor has denied the writer the right to wholehearted creation and ownership of a world of his own construction. A piece of art then ceases to become a piece of art the instant it ceases to be the product of one mind. Naturally nobody is nearly as interested in one of my stories as I am myself. Nobody will see anywhere near as much in a smear of my paint as I will myself. Therefore the critic is not only unwanted but is actually functioning something on the order of a grave robber...

      I recall my jealous guardianship of my California vegetable garden. It actually pained me to have anyone touch it or to have to accept advice on it. I didn’t really want admiration. The thing in itself was wholly sufficient . . . and so it is with my pages. We must always better them the next time, always strive for perfection in them because if we achieve perfection then we have come as close to the activity of the self as a mortal can get. . . .




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