It delights me to no end that William Faulkner and Charles Bukowski see eye to eye on the issue of creativity. They don't exactly say the same thing, but they both make similar claims when it comes to the perfect setup for creativity. I first read Bukowski's poem, "air and light and time and space," as brilliantly illustrated at Zen Pencils. The poem follows below, but please be sure to see the interpretation at Zen Pencils.
"–you know, I’ve either had a family, a job, something has always been in the way but now I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this place, a large studio, you should see the space and the light. for the first time in my life I’m going to have a place and the time to create." no baby, if you’re going to create you’re going to create whether you work 16 hours a day in a coal mine or you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children while you’re on welfare, you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown away, you’re going to create blind crippled demented, you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your back while the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment, flood and fire. baby, air and light and time and space have nothing to do with it and don’t create anything except maybe a longer life to find new excuses for.
Then I read the following interview with William Faulkner in which he has the following choice quotes:
The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is worth any number of old ladies.
The writer doesn't need economic freedom. All he needs is a pencil and some paper. I've never known anything good in writing to come from having accepted any free gift of money. The good writer never applies to a foundation. He's too busy writing something. If he isn't first rate he fools himself by saying he hasn't got time or economic freedom. Good art can come out of thieves, bootleggers, or horse swipes.
That was taken out of context and you should read the rest of the interview. Faulkner didn't say that writers don't have any needs. But he does agree with Bukowski that if we're spending our time fussing about the art and not making our art, we're just fooling ourselves.
Illustration by Gavin Aung Than, used with permission.