No, this is not about ETs or the search for interstellar intelligence. It was inspired, and is my answer to, a recent blog post by John Anealio. The post is here:
He asks if the creators out there are more comfortable, or think they can do their best work, alone or with others? It’s an interesting question, and I have taken some time to think about it. I had a quick answer, but almost immediately, I felt it needed more thought.
I write, so the easy, quick answer is: “Of course, I work alone.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, perhaps, this is not true.
Not many people know this, but I play piano – sort of. I have always wanted to, I can read music since I have sung in various groups for many years, and I knew the piano keyboard layout. I took a few years of lessons, stopping a couple of years ago. But I play only for myself. Very few people actually hear me play. I sit down when no one is here and play a few pieces just for me. Why? Well, for one thing, I don’t play well. When I have an audience, I am more acutely aware of mistakes and hesitations, and I get flustered. So I keep it to myself, and that’s the way I like it.
The writing is different. It’s something I want to use as a communication of sorts. To give a little of myself and who I am to the world. That alone means I am not in this alone. The whole potential audience out there is part of the process. But it’s more than that.
Yes, I write alone, here on my computer. But after that, I have a small group of people I might consider collaborators, in a sense. They are the ones who read the first drafts of my stories and give feedback on them. Sometimes, it’s hard to do that. Sometimes, it’s hard to hear what they have to say. But it is valuable, and always helps me make the work better.
I guess the answer to the question is: I can’t do what I do, and do it well, without the help of others. And I thank them, more than they will ever know.