I recently watched a TED Talk video by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. It was called Your Elusive Creative Genius.
Gilbert discussed the impossible expectations placed on artists, particularly authors. She admits, her greatest accomplishment—the Eat, Pray, Love novel—is probably behind her, so how is she to go forward and continue to write?
She takes us on a trip back in history, when the people of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome believed spirits who lived within their walls visited artistic people. These invisible spirits assisted the writer, so the writer could not take full credit or all the criticism for the completed work.
It was horrible. Yes, well, I can’t take the full blame.
The Greeks called their creative imp a damon. The Romans called it a genius. The distance between writers and their damon (or genius) protected writers from their work, and gave them freedom to continue with writing because they didn’t have to take full responsibility.
The Renaissance period changed this. The two (writer and genius/damon) became one, and the writer became fully responsible for the successes and failures of their work. Gilbert suggests this was a bad thing, and it has been killing artists for the past five hundred years.
To hear Gilbert explain this better than I can write it, watch her TED Talks video Your Elusive Creative Genius.