As I write this, I am at a scenic island resort with about 150 other people. Half of these are Artists. The other half are Writers. Some may argue that Writers are artists, so our two groups are really just one. To that I reply, you would not say such things if you were here.
If there is one thing I have learned from this week's juxtaposition it is that Writers may be artists, but they are not Artists. The rising tension on Star Island attests to the fact that we are two very different Animals.
The dichotomy is apparent as soon as we open our eyes in the morning.
The Artists do yoga on the porch at dawn before helping themselves to a rich variety of herbal teas.
The Writers wander the porch groggily, hugging their coffee cups and trying not to see the wrinkled old ladies bending and stretching, many of whom have made the unfortunate choice to wear their bathing suits to this activity.
The Artists, toting their easels and sketch books, go looking for something to paint. They jockey for position, managing to look serene even while fiercely competing for the best views. They sit or stand in solitude, framing the landscape with thumbs and fingers, ostensibly seeing something that no one else has seen in the two centuries that artists have been coming to this quarter-mile island to capture its vistas.
Occasionally the Writers scatter, notebooks in hand, seeking a quiet place to scribble down thoughts. But before long they gravitate back toward each other. They sit in clusters laughing robustly and telling each other stories that have no endings because they are only half written.
The Artists spread their craft projects on the dining hall tables. They arrange them in neat little rows, much like an elementary school Open House. They bid on each other's works in a silent auction, privately taking offense at each low bid.
The Writers spread manuscripts on laps or picnic tables, ruthlessly critiquing each other's prose. They scrawl comments in margins, mincing no words. It stings, but they do it because each knows it is for the other's own good.
The Artists relish the retreat from technology.
The Writers dodge the Artists' frowns, while slyly texting on their smartphones.
When an Artist has to leave the island unexpectedly, the others send her positive energy, loudly chanting a mantra.
When a Writer is called away by an emergency, the others "Like" his updates on Facebook to show their support.
The Artists are ethereal.
The Writers are paying for Ethernet.
The Artists wear sweater vests over their button-down blouses.
The Writers wear t-shirts with sayings like, "I make stuff up."
The Artists carry tote bags with the motto, "My spirit's home is on Star Island."
The Writers would prefer to take their spirits with them when they leave.
The Artists explore spirituality in chapel services morning and evening.
The Writers explore a different kind of spirits long into the night.
The Artists sing "This Little Light of Mine" in a round.
The Writers holler, "ARRRGGH!" and cheer like pirates.
The Artists insist upon a strictly enforced schedule of quiet hours.
The Writers resent this as they would a legislated coma and are frequently scolded by the staff.
The list could go on and on.
I think, based on my observations this week, that the greatest difference between Writers and Artists is that Writers would much rather create a moment than capture one.