The latest installment of Holly Lisle's TalysMana, a novel draft that she's writing "live" and sending out to subscribers, made me laugh because it mentions fandom, although not by that name. I've wanted to do that in a piece of non-fanfiction since shortly after I learned what fanfiction is, so ... good on Holly for doing yet another thing I've been wanting to do. ;) Aside from writing and publishing books, TalysMana itself is a bit like an idea I've had knocking around in my head for a while — but, you know, it exists. I just had some vague notion of combining writing and jewelrymaking, but she and her daughter are actually doing it. (And soon I'll be launching my knitting+fiction project, which has a similar bent, but that's for another post. While I'm on a tangent, though, go visit TalysMana and subscribe. It's just getting juicy and you have six chapters to enjoy while waiting for the next.)
The main reason I'm writing this post is that in the latest chapter of TalysMana, the talented Ms. Lisle also touches on an idea I once supported (or at least considered reasonable) — but until tonight I'd forgotten why I ever thought the idea made sense. The idea: The universe is locked in a forever battle between entropy and creation, and generally speaking, as creatures of life, for us, entropy = bad.
I know why I forgot how to believe in that idea; I forgot to believe in it because I started thinking of entropy as a purely scientific concept, or more specifically, a thermodynamic concept. Entropy is involved in the melting of ice, to use Wikipedia's example, and ice melting isn't exactly a villainous act. So I forgot why entropy had ever = bad, and the concept started to seem completely melodramatic.
But tonight, Holly Lisle's novel-in-progress reminded me that what we create is part of reality — quite literally. What you think in your head, what you write in your journal ... Those things may be private, but they still exist, and if you think about all the negativity that people nurture in themselves, in others, even in private ... It does start to seem like there must be an enormous amount of negativity out there. Now, if you believe that every act of imagination is contributing to the current reality, then self-help starts to seem like a bigger deal — "Your focus determines your reality" turns into "Your focus helps determine everyone's reality," and goshdarnit if creativity doesn't start to seem like a power to wield with responsibility.
The idea of collective mood isn't that far-fetched, either — MoodViews tracks Livejournal moods and creates a collective mood report, and I seem to recall a collective mood widget for the Mac OS Dashboard, that took the form of a strangely mesmerizing, color-changing glowing dot...
Anyway. Tonight I re-realized that entropy = bad is really the flip side of creativity = good. Creativity, if you mean it in a certain sense, contributes to collective positivity. It adds something good to reality. It makes the world a brighter place. Even if no one sees what you do, your creativity still exists, and if you believe in a higher power of any kind, or if you believe in the Whole in a sort of Zen way, your creativity matters because it's visible from a distance as a building block in the Grand Scheme of Things. If enough people choose to create, then the universe is a more creative place. If enough people choose to destroy, the universe becomes a more destructive place. Heck, don't stop at the universe — all of Existence is built of these wee molecular structures, and to a large extent, you can choose what your addition to the Whole looks like.
So there's a good reason to go ahead and create, even if someone else has been there before you; even if you don't think anyone will care; even if you know no one will ever see it.
Create because it is good. Create because you are giving life to something positive. Create because you choose to give the gift of something beautiful, or meaningful, or fun, to the whole of reality. Create because you live, and your life needs to be spent in some fashion, and when it comes down to it, would you rather have spent it negatively? Or would you rather be able to look back and say, "I brought something good to this place, in my own way, as best I could"?
That's what it means when people say "Only you, of all the people in creation, can do what you do."
You can create, or you can destroy. We all do a little of each, but when you have a chance to shape your little part of the Whole, which one will you choose to do?