Look at the title above.  The title of this blog post is the same as that of Tobias’ blog for one simple reason: to remind us that writing is ART.

ART.  For anyone who has kept up with my past posts, you know how much I love that word.  art. Art.  ART.  In all of its forms, mediums, styles.  ART!  I could sing that word all day.  Roll the “r” off the tongue.  “arrrrt.”   Bite into the “a.”  “Art.”  Caress the “t” at the end.  “art…”

No matter how you say it, the word is magical.  One three letter word encompasses such a huge part of life.  Everything from movies, media, video games, advertising, fine art, sculpture, theatre, live art, literature, and more.  It’s all art.  But, here is something for you to chew on.

True or false: Some art is better than others?  

I’m sure most of you answered yes.  If you are like me, you would much rather see a Picasso rather than a contemporary piece with three black lines on it or one of those you think your two year old could draw.  Or, you would much rather read Charles Dickens, J.K. Rowling, Juliet Marillier, or Edgar Allen Poe rather than some cheesy harlequin or the latest self-published book on Barnes & Noble that is littered with grammatical mistakes and plot holes as large as the Grand Canyon.

But, here’s the main question.

Does the quality of art affect the status of a piece as art?

Hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago, this piece by Piet Mondrian is titled Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red, and Gray.
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is currently hanging in the Modern Museum of Art New York

These two pieces use the same basic colors, are both famous artworks hanging in galleries, and are both representative of their time.  So, leaving aside the art history classes about representation of line, form, symbolism, etc is it fair to say that one of them is art and one of them is not?

The answer: It doesn’t matter if it is fair or not; our minds instinctively do it anyways.  

And, here’s the thing.  Readers will do the same to your work.  Yes, on a basic level, your writing can be classified as “art” because it has a title, a string of paragraphs held loosely together with lines of words that make some semblance of sense.  But, at the end of the day, would you rather be known as a Van Gogh or a Piet?  (Disclaimer: instinct aside, I do have respect for Piet in a art theory type of way, but let’s face it, his work does tend to make me think that my two year old nephew could produce something of equal or greater interest and quality.)

So, what does it take to become a Van Gogh?

1.  Practice. All art, regardless of medium, genre, etc requires practice.  Thus Tobias’ challenges.  Think of all the great authors and painters who were apprentices, who studied under masters.  Their apprenticeships were their practice runs, similar to internships today.

2. Criticism.  Whether we like it or not, every piece needs to be critiqued.  Many times we miss when our work is crap.  We invest so much of ourselves into our babies that we cannot see the flaws, and it hurts to be told that they exist.  But, that is the only way to improve.  That being said, even with critiques, we should still be true to ourselves, and not all criticism is good criticism.

3. Faith and persistence.   Rejection is part of the art game.  It is going to come, and come, and come.  And just when you think you are drowning, you will be hit with 10 foot tidal wave to keep you under.  But, if you keep on practicing and keep trying to improve your work, then eventually, someone will hand you a floating device.  And maybe, just maybe, by the time you swim yourself to shore using every last resource of breath and muscle you possess, someone just may label you a Van Gogh.

All pictures are from Mark Harden’s Artchive at http://artchive.com/.  A most fabulous site.

3 thoughts on “the ART of writing

  1. Yes! Absolutely! As one writer (can’t remember who) said (and I’m seriously paraphrasing here), ‘You could compare Steven King or Michael Crichton to gourmet pizza, and you could compare Danielle Steel or Aaron Alston to Dominoes, and you wouldn’t be far off on either count. But sometimes you just want Dominoes.’ It doesn’t matter what you write, you can find a market for it. That doesn’t make it great literature, but it does mean that you have an audience. If you want to be a great author, you have to keep trying to get better. And remember, no one gave a crap about Van Gogh until long after he was dead.

  2. You missed one thing one needs to become a Van Gogh – a mild near sighted astigmatism! Uncorreted, of course.

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