Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Talking Art

That terrible mood of depression of whether it's any good or not is what is known as The Artist's Reward.”

Jenna touched on something really good last week when she said “the desperation with which I want to be an artist is the sort of thing I can't speak openly about." To respond to it I have to leave Flannery for a week and fall back into Hemingway. Hemingway is the sort of writer who can understand this feeling. He wants desperately, and he understands the sacrifices the writer makes without even realizing they are sacrifices.

It's hard to talk about art when you're in it, and it's bad luck because, as Jenna says "you follow the desire of your heart into Oberon's wood, ignoring rebuffs, with no hope except that you might possibly be overheard by sympathetic magic—" and we all know that magic hides from acknowledgement, twists and changes itself to avoid gratitude. Better to keep your mouth shut, magic comes when and how it choses - even when we try to manipulate it.

Jenna's post is honest and open, and even not talking about the sacrifices of art, she manages to say more about those sacrifices than I did.  How do we talk about art without distracting from the art itself, and without being "one of those people"? You know the kind who only talk about "this book I'm writing..and can I just read a bit to you, to get your opinion, you know?!" Because talking about art often kills it, which is why I am rarely open about particular projects until they're nearing the close, because I hate talking specifics when in comes to writing, and unless I'm directly involved in the editing process, I don't really like hearing specifics - it's like hearing the details of a birth over the phone, or reading them on facebook. I like speaking of generalities, not specifics. Jenna is right when she describes the desire for art as primal. It is, too personal for blogs, for daily conversation, to be cheapened by common talk.

"The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life and one is as good as the other."

When people ask about my writing I tend to mumble a bit, drop my eyes, and say something banal.  Writing grows best in silence, as the artist does. 


  1. "I don't really like hearing specifics - it's like hearing the details of a birth over the phone, or reading them on facebook. I like speaking of generalities, not specifics."

    Oh, I know just what you mean. The moment all the information about dilation and effacement comes out, all the mystery and wonder are SO gone. :P I'll have to be careful to make sure my post doesn't turn into a tirade against unbeautiful speech. ;) It should be fun to write, anyway.

  2. I HATE the reading "I'm blah blah dilated and blah blah effaced." I don't want details, and I don't want to give out details about writing, birth, sex or anything else that doesn't relate to people not intimately connected to it. It's bad luck, and awful manners. And it seems to be getting more common all the time.

    Feel free to tirade all you want against unbeautiful speech and inappropriate questions! People feel like they have such a strange 'right to know' everything - how you spend your time, whether it's a 'worthwhile' occupation, and every personal detail of your inner life. It's a big frustration in my life (I guess that's obvious).

    It's funny that people often assume that if you don't want to post a facebook update telling people you're "abstaining this week" or "here's draft #57 of my novel" you're a prude, or ashamed or you lack confidence. There is such a lack of respect for the appropriate time and place for personal conversation. ugh.

    There's my tirade. I didn't intend to go on so long. :) I'm looking forward to reading your post!!

  3. Haha, tirade away. ;) I've got to take some care on my own blog because I have very sweet women in my family who have no censor whatever on the details of birth... I don't want to make them feel like I'm calling them out. But I'll see what I can find to say, and be emphatic about that. :)

    Happy Birthday to Yarrow! Your pictures of her are SO adorable.