Saturday, February 14, 2009

Writing - To Create Art

Warning: the following post is a little more emotional and a little less cerebral than is typical of me. Feel free to skip if that's not your style.

I get rare moments of lucidity after viewing some art forms – whether it be dance, musical, or the written word – that are brought on by either the emotional depth or a sense of carpe diem in the piece. I feel as though this is one of those times…

Every day, we writers are thinking about our work – how to make the plot flow or the character feel alive, how to mold our language to support the scenes we create, how to captivate and enthrall the reader and make them want to know more… to read more. To care. But in this routine, I find that sometimes I forget what I’m really doing. Why it’s a passion. I sometimes get lost in the technicalities – word choice, punctuation, phrasing, use of tense or point of view.

And then it’s nice to sit back and remember, or realize, that what we as writers are truly doing… is creating art. Sure we all know that writing is a creative art, but have you ever just thought about what that means. We are making something out of nothing and we are attempting to do it in such a fashion that it appeals to our fellow people. To their minds. To their emotions. To whatever is in us that makes us human.

Of course within the plethora of stories that have been written, there are varying degrees to which this is accomplished. How many novels out there contain that spark of humanity? If the world were a warehouse, containing barrels of rocks and gems as stories, how many would be diamonds?

Some of you may disagree with me on this point, but I judge the quality of the books I read based on how much I care about the people in them. Did I laugh at their antics, their flaws, their quirks? Did I cry when their world crumbled or hearts broke? Did I get so mad that I wanted to reach into that world and act? The stories that do this to me are what I view as diamonds.

I’d say the same thing about movies and plays. The ones that amuse me are great, but the ones that touch my spirit… those are the ones I love. The ones I watch again and again. Those are the kind of stories that I want to write. They don’t have to be serious or dark. They can be playful or vibrant. But the characters have to matter. And as an artist, I want to create characters that matter. Fictional people with which real people feel some connection. Sympathy. Empathy.

I suppose a lot of this could go without saying, but as I mentioned, in the day-to-day world of pursuing our passions, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the details and forget what exactly we’re doing. Whether we write mysteries, horrors, science fiction, romance, westerns, thrillers, or fantasies, we are all commenting on the human experience.

The only real questions are: to what extent and what impressions are we leaving?

Writing is a solitary, quiet art, mostly devoid of the fanfare that comes from dancing or singing, from acting or playing an instrument. But it is indeed an art. An art of creation.

So my new question to myself is – how can I get readers to connect with every character I create? (a question which deserves its own blog post to answer). Later gators!


Lady Glamis said...

Great post, Anette. I must say that I share your opinion on this, almost exactly. I don't connect with anything unless I care about it. The connection IS the caring, in my opinion. I think this is why I don't like sci-fi and fantasy as much because I have a hard time caring about characters that don't seem real to me in a real world. I hope that makes sense.

However, there are exceptions. I have read sci-fi and fantasy pieces that definitely draw me in and make me care about them.

To try and answer your question, I think that if YOU as the writer care about your characters, then your reader most likely will. If your characters haunt you on an hourly basis, you care about them. If they "talk" to you. If you cry over them. If you think of them as real people . . . yeah, your reader is going to see and feel that in your writing.

Sorry, I went on forever. Not sure I answered much. Just shared a few thoughts. :)

Davin Malasarn said...

I agree. I don't understand it at all, but I find that whenever I am writing sincerely and emotionally, readers pick up on it. And, when I'm being phoney, readers seem to sense that too. The psychic component of writing is really fascinating.