Saturday, 27 September 2014

One from the heart (not)

There's a lot said about what art is meant to be, and what you need to do to be a true artist.

You often hear it said, when a particular artist is referred to, that he or she is really digging deep and baring their soul for the world.

It seems to be a particularly big deal in the world of music, where singers seem to think it's their goal to appear as if they're in the greatest of pain and heartbreak with every song that they sing.

That's all well and good, and I'm sure there is a place for this kind of art. But I have to say that, personally, I find it all a bit exhausting. I don't need everything I read, or watch or listen to, to take me so deeply into someone else's pain (concocted or not). Sometimes, I just want to read a really good story, or listen to a really good song that's sung well without the need for paroxysms of pain.

So what does that mean for me as a writer? Am I somehow seen as less of an artist because I'm not baring the depths of my soul for all the world to see? Is it my job to be eviscerating myself publicly for the benefit of my audience?

I don't think so. As a writer, I'm quite happy to be coming up with great stories that move and engage and entertain. And yes, there is always a little bit of my heart and soul in there. I can't help that because it's the way I write. But it isn't every last bit of me. When it comes down to it, it's just a story I've made up that I feel some readers out there will enjoy.

Because I'm not baring the deepest, darkest depths of my soul for the world, does that make it any lesser? Does that somehow mean that maybe I'm not as genuine as other writers? Is my work somehow less worthy as art?

I don't think so.

1 comment:

  1. There’s room for all sorts in the world. Sometimes I feel like candyfloss, other times I want steak pie and chips. Neither is wrong. Personally I’m a bit of a literary snob. I don’t look for books that one might classify as a “beach read”. And yet I’ll watch all sorts of tripe on TV. This is because TV’s where I go for mindless entertainment. Not that I don’t enjoy good TV when I can get but that’s not really what television’s all about. My main problem with reading is that it takes effort from me. I’ve never been a voracious reader and most of the time I manage about an hour and even in that hour I fidget, make cups of coffee, go to the loo, fix a snack, check my computer. I don’t get these people who can spend all day reading. If I did then I might not be as fussy as I am because it’s taking effort on my part I want that effort to count for something and that’s why I prefer to read good books. For a while I’d review pretty much anything that was sent to me but as the years have gone by I’m starting to find myself annoyed by a lot of what I get offered. It’s a waste of my time. And I’m running out of it.

    What I basically look for in a book is meaning. I’m reading a book just now narrated by a rat. You could’ve written it quite easily. The rat has learned to read. But, of course, the story’s not really about a rat who’s learned to read. It’s about literature and its place in our lives. No idea where it’s all heading but it’s keeping my attention.