Saturday, November 01, 2008

Words Without Pictures

The few friends of mine who are writers have always warned me against writing: "It's boring, it's lonely and it's hard," one told me. "Why the hell would anyone with anything better to do choose it as an occupation?"
I've always loved books and reading – along with art, they were my refuge as a kid – but I've been disinclined to write much myself, apart from this blog, because most poets, playwrights and novelists I've come across at arts festivals and conferences have been dull, self-important types who thought that just because they could string a few words together, they were a lot smarter than they really were. Their editors were even worse.
The sole exception was a woman I met a few months ago, the editorial head of a successful, independent Australian publisher. She suggested I tackle the outline and a couple of chapters of a non-fiction book I had in mind. After a lot of hemming-and-hawing (and doodling random notes on the back of paper napkins), I locked myself away for a couple of weeks to try to come up with something readable.
The process has been enjoyable compared to painting. Maybe because my ambitions as a writer are very modest ('modest' and 'writer' are, in my experience, a contradiction in terms), my self-esteem hasn't been riding on the outcome.
I wish I could say the same about my art.


Queen Vee said...

Can't agree more about authors and editors (and I'm a soon-to-be-former editor myself). All the best with the book submission.

TET (David) said...

"...most [artists]... I've come across at arts festivals and conferences have been dull, self-important types who thought that just because they could [paint a few brushstrokes], they were a lot smarter than they really were."

Sorry - just couldn't help but paraphrase you with a few of my own custom substitutions. There really are a lot of artists out there that think because their work has some 'higher meaning' that you just don't understand (and they won't take the time to explain) it some how makes them smarter than you.

"Nobody understands me therefore I'm too smart for you all!" LOL

Anonymous said...

I trained to be a writer in school among other things. Unfortunately the experience burned me out in a major way. Education and repeated requirements to produce hundreds of pages a semester on mostly inconsequential issues sealed me off from the world of fiction. I used to be able to submerge myself in a narrative thought process and just let the work flow out of my fingers. Now... Nothing at all.

Which is why I learned to paint. So perhaps we have opposite situations (though I hope you're not burning out on painting).

I do think it's important to remain in control of your creativity. If it is allowed to burn out - You may never recover. And the *fastest* way I've found to burn out a creative talent is to cater to other people's desires. That and cramming too much output into too little time.

Have fun writing (and painting).