Thursday, December 24, 2015

December 24, 2015
It has been some time since I have done any writing on the informal side. That is a fancy way of saying that my sports writing has been pretty much it for me for the past couple of months. There is nothing really wrong with that either. At the moment, I am in the post first draft stage of completion.

I have written my third novel. It is in the hands of beta readers and reviewers. But while I was on vacation a couple of days ago, sitting in a  hotel room in San Francisco, a little video popped onto my Facebook feed. And I watched it. A sigh of relief. A feeling of justification, or vindication, or any form of regurgitated self-congratulatory exhalation came through my mind.

You see, I take great pride in my heritage as a Northwesterner. I was raised in Oregon. I have seen the worked from an Oregonian eye and I have traveled the nation seeing it from my own view while learning about the nation and world from the views of others. Those views have made me what I am, like it or not, a uniquely flawed individual.

As I was watching the video, from a fellow Northwest writer, and Oregon alum, Lidia Yuknavitch, she spoke to my writing soul. My fiction, you see, is a far cry from my sports writing.

I have long felt that the 'writing as art' phenomenon was being lost in a world devoid of interest in true art. So busy are writers trying to get published that they get lost in what sells. By doing so, they sell themselves. Not their souls. I think the soul of those writers who want to be different, to be artists, never really gets sold, but their heart does. Maybe this is where I have some strange edge - I do not depend on writing to pay my bills, to buy the house, or the car, or anything else I may want. Writing is a passion which simply fills my soul.

But Lidia; she hit the nail on the head in a way I have been saying for years. She does not use the words in the manner I use them - art. We are artists. We do not have to live by some strangely obsessed vision of what constitutes plot, character development, tone, voice, or any other narrative device which is preached to us as grade schoolers. We can make our story our way. Our way may not sell, but who really gives a shit. Writing at its core was not supposed to be about selling; or getting rich; or being famous.

At its core, writing was always supposed to be about telling a story. Changing the world through words. Enlightenment. And when we write to sell, or be rich, we are losing our core. Writing has lost its edge. Let's get that edge back. Let's write in a fashion that makes the story we have to tell something better than a formula. After all, if I wanted to write formulas, I would have become a mathematician.

How is this at all related to the title of this post? Because the best way to become an artist is to stop trying to 'learn about the craft' of writing and simply write. Change the craft. Be your voice. Jackson Pollack. Claude Monet. Georgia O'Keefe. They all produced art on their terms. Their art was brilliant.

It is time we produce our own art on our terms and stop worrying about whether what we produce will impress literary agents, publishers, and mainstream media. If we do this, the art of writing will be a craft all its own; and we will have all learned more about the craft of writing; of being an artist.


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