I’ve been watching an interesting debate unfold on an egroup, about whether role play gaming is a productive thing for an author to do. Some folks, myself included, think yes. Others feel it wastes time, and distracts from the important business of Being A Writer.
As bardcraft is an important part of the Druid tradition, I’ve spent a fair while talking with other folks about what a bard needs to do, in order to truly walk that path. Creative expression is a big part of it, of course. However, there was agreement that it takes more than making things, to be a bard. I think it also calls for more than spending time writing to be a good author. You have to live, experience and explore in order to have stories to tell.
For a bard, listening is a vital skill. We listen to the music, songs, poetry and stories of fellow bards, and we learn from them. We listen to the words of the people around us, and the truths that come from their hearts, even if they aren’t beautifully presented. We listen to the wind, the songs of birds, the whispers of the ancestors and the cries of the future being born.
We listen to the silence.
To my mind, writing (and any other creative expression) should not be about separating yourself from the world. Paganism is all about embracing life, in all its richness, and any practise that isolates us, is at odds with that spiritual dimension. Writing should be an act of engagement.
Therefore, I must argue, any kind of experience or pursuit is a valid one, for the bard and author both. Not just valid, but necessary. We need to be out in the world, listening, experiencing, feeling and thinking. And no one should spend their days sat at a computer, tapping out words to the exclusion of all else. That isn’t living, it isn’t honouring nature within us.
If you want to be an author, take some time to live, in the manner of your choosing. There is far more to being an author than that part of the process involving crafting things out of words.