Dammit, if writing ain’t serious business.
Of all the arts, I think writing is the easiest to think of as work, rather than play. I mean, musicians play their instruments, and in the theater, actors play at being someone else, and they get together with a director and techies and launch a play. Painters and sculptors and other visual artists play with their media, with the colors, the textures, and viscosities; their work is often gestural, reflective of the physical play between the artists’ bodies and their creations.
But I hardly ever hear writers say they’re going to play with a piece, and when they do what they really mean is they’ve got work to do on it. They seldom mean, “I’m going to have fun with it.”
And that’s a shame, I think, because those of us who are writers obviously appreciate what words can do. So why don’t we delight more in pushing them onto and around the page?
What would happen if we started calling our writing play? What if our legacy weren’t a body of work, but a body of play? Would that undermine its importance? Or would we re-energize our “work” by re-conceptualizing it as an opportunity for fun, adventure, and discovery, or whatever play means to us?