Friday, February 21

The art of writing... by Liz Flaherty #WordWranglers

I live in a community of cornfields, small towns where most everyone knows everyone else (but doesn't mind their business because it's, you know, their business...), Dollar General stores, Walmarts, and drugstore chains. We have quite a few boutiques anymore, and they're wonderful, fun places not everyone can afford and not everyone feels comfortable in--but they are a change, added flavor where sometimes the shopping palate falls flat.

We're not arty.

Except that we are. The arts communities within most towns around here are active and generous with their time and talents. They're enthusiastic participants in First Friday and Second Saturday events. We have lovely galleries, as well as some wonderful wineries, coffee shops, and micro-breweries that make downtown walks around into an unexpected experience.
Downtown Peru, Indiana
Live music is a rich addition to every event and every festival, even at area libraries. The music is eclectic and fun--sometimes exciting and sometimes soothing. 

Because manufacturing has mostly left us, because there aren't many small farmers left in the area, because this is a place of low pay and--so we are accused--low education, culture and the arts are all the more important. I am glad and grateful that they are here.

But the work of non-academic writers is seldom considered part of those arts. We aren't usually invited to participate in gallery occasions. This is nothing new--it's always been this way. It didn't used to bother me--I've always considered myself a craftsman more than an artist--but I find myself newly resentful of being considered...less.

I must put another part of that in here before I go on. I don't particularly like participating in events. There is little I dislike more than a book-signing. Because of that old "what if I fail?" thing, I guess. I don't offer myself up because if I do fail, I don't want it to affect anyone else. Makes you think maybe I'm the one who considers me that "less" I was whining about. Hmmm...
Liz & Nan at an "event." Photo by Sarah Luginbill
At the end of the day it's the joy of being asked that I regret not exeriencing.

When I Googled the question, Is writing an art?, there were more answers than I expected. And many of us who are still asking it.

Is it more likely to be considered an art in urban areas where there are still bookstores and budgets and buildings are bigger?

"Curiouser and curiouser..."

From my point of view, yeah, I think it's an art. It's creative, it's hard, it's painstaking and is often ripped from our very souls. That sounds dramatic, I know, but if you've ever spent three hours at the desk for the sake of one completed sentence...well, like I said, ripped from our souls.

For the sake of my soul--and conversation--where do you weigh in? If you're a writer, do you consider yourself an artist? If you're a reader, do you consider our work to be art? (Whichever way you look at it, always know we appreciate you.)

14 comments:

  1. Liz,
    Everything you write gives me a mental picture that I didn't possess, before.
    If not for your words, there would be no picture....in other words, you ARE an artist.
    An artist in the best way, because my mental picture is different than everyone elses...that's the best, isn't it?

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  2. That's a good question, Liz. I've never really thought of myself as an artist either. Like you, I'm more of a craftsman. Maybe it's a pre-conceived notion because I write genre romance rather than more "serious" artsy literary fiction. But the work we put in, and the heart and soul, are equivalent to that of any musician or painter or sculptor. It's just not seen the same way.

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    1. It's too bad, too, because I think the work of genre writers touches at least as many people as does literary fiction. Glad to know I'm not the only craftsman out there! :-)

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  3. I don't really think of myself as an artist, so what am I? Not really an entertainer either? I'm for sure a storyteller, and I hope my stories bring hope and inspiration to readers.

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    1. I always want to give someone a nice afternoon. I believe, even though I don't think of myself as an artist, I want others to consider my work as art. Entertainment's a good word for it.

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  4. Artist seems appropriate because writer’s create, however I never use the label myself.

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  5. Ditto what Gloria said. I think the biggest praise I've ever gotten is to be called a Storyteller--especially when you think of the storytellers of the past, the ones who preserved our history, who created dreams on paper, and made us all think. It's a privilege to be included in that group.

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    1. I love that "name," too. We went to a storytelling festival once, and after that, I REALLY loved the name. And you definitely qualify, Ms. Margie!

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  6. Tough question. I guess I don't consider myself an artist, but we paint stories with words, don't we? Is a director of movies an artist? He uses cinema to tell stories. But we're all creative, and anything creative takes effort and skill. So stop considering yourself "less." You write beautiful stories.

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    1. I think--and I hate admitting this--that although I don't really consider myself an artist, I want others to see me as one. I wonder what a psychologist would make of that... :-)

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  7. I don't actively think of myself as an artist - to me sculptors and painters and photographers are artists. But then, I do think some films are complete art and some actors (like Tom Hanks) are artists because when I watch them on-screen I stop seeing the actor and actually see the character. Same with a few authors - they take me out of my chair and into some other place. That's art to me, just like studying the paintings at the art museum can transport me to a French garden. TV, movies and books are sometimes disparaged as 'entertainment' - as if it's not art if everyone understands it or enjoys it. But like a Picasso or a Monet, a good TV show or movie or book transports a person...and that *is* art. So, yeah, I'll take the title of artist...although, like Gloria, I prefer storyteller.

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    1. I like storyteller a lot, too. And I love that feeling of transportation--when the artist takes me out of where and what and maybe who I am.

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