They both coursed with emotions that weren’t easy to contain. In Bill that potent feeling found an exit in work. “I work to live,” he once told me, and after meeting Dan I understood far better what he had meant by those words. Making art was necessary for Bill to maintain a minimal equilibrium, to keep himself going. Dan’s plays and poems were mostly unfinished, the tattered products of a mind that ran in circles and could never leap out of itself. The older brother’s brain and nerves and private history had given him the strength to withstand the strains of ordinary life. The younger brother’s had not.
The above passage is from a novel I’m reading at the moment called What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. I started reading it because I’m a huge admirer of Paul Auster‘s work, and it intrigued me to discover that his wife is also a writer. I have to say she is an excellent author in her own right.
This particular quote struck a chord with me. I think it says a lot about the creative process. When I read it I felt I was reading not about an artist named Bill and his mentally ill brother Dan, but about the constant struggle faced by all creative minds: the fears and doubts that plague us and keep us striving towards our goal.
I think a mind that can leap out of itself is something worth striving for.