When you're socially awkward, you're isolated more than usual, and when you're isolated more than usual, your creativity is less compromised by what has already been said and done. All your hope in life starts to depend on your craft, so you try to perfect it. One reason I stay isolated more than the average person is to keep my creativity as fierce as possible. Being the odd one out may have its temporary disadvantages, but more importantly, it has its permanent advantages.
This is the essence of Rembrandt's advice to Van Hoogstraten: the authentic craft develops naturally from one's own experience.So, it seems reasonable to suggest that the search should not be for the lost secrets, but for one's own practice. This is in fact easy, you start making things. At first they might not be perfect, but the information here should provide you with a running start. And, if you are cut out for this the learning curve will not be daunting, because you will realize that you are finally headed in the right direction: towards the living craft.
Creation from chaos is natural. We've come to a place where we've realized that we have this actual physical need to create things. We've discovered that we hate people en masse, we're sick of homogenized culture, and these realizations have left holes in our hearts. We create to fill those holes, to be able to sleep at night knowing we've done something, even a small something, to confront the manufactured culture that is currently being churned out.
[N]othing about a book is so unmistakable and so irreplaceable as the stamp of the cultured mind. I don't care what the story is about or what may be the momentary craze for books that appear to have been hammered out by the village blacksmith in a state of intoxication; the minute you get the easy touch of the real craftsman with centuries of civilisation behind him, you get literature.
All you ought to be worrying about now is order (not about how to impose it on chaos, wish is the opposite of art, but about how to bring it out of chaos, which is art itself). And your worrying about this ought not to be a tortured thing - God knows there's enough torture growing wild in everybody's life so that nobody in his right mind needs to cultivate it - but a serene thing. Don't, in other words, jazz yourself up into a nervous wreck. Be quiet, be as sane as you can, and let the work come out of you. If it's to come, it will; if it's not, no amount of self-induced frenzy is going to hep it along.One final piece of solemn, teacherly advice, and I do mean this: Try to like yourself a little better.
I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don't know how many branches it's going to have, they find out as it grows. And I'm much more a gardener than an architect.
The poet or the revolutionary is there to articulate the necessity, but until the people themselves apprehend it, nothing can happen ... Perhaps it can't be done without the poet, but it certainly can't be done without the people. The poet and the people get on generally very badly, and yet they need each other. The poet knows it sooner than the people do. The people usually know it after the poet is dead; but that's all right. The point is to get your work done, and your work is to change the world.
The main question to a novel is -- did it amuse? were you surprised at dinner coming so soon? did you mistake eleven for ten? were you too late to dress? and did you sit up beyond the usual hour? If a novel produces these effects, it is good; if it does not -- story, language, love, scandal itself cannot save it. It is only meant to please; and it must do that or it does nothing.
Our exertions generally find no enduring physical correlatives. We are diluted in gigantic intangible collective projects, which leave us wondering what we did last year and, more profoundly, where we have gone and quite what we have amounted to....How different everything is for the craftsman who ... can step back at the end of a day or lifetime and point to an object--whether a square of canvas, a chair or a clay jug--and see it as a stable repository of his skills and an accurate record of his years, and hence feel collected together in one place, rather than strung out across projects which long ago evaporated into nothing one could hold or see.