it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

  • Mood:

art: no place for sissies

Some of the meekest people I know are also some of the bravest. I'm reminded of Dorothy Parker's poem, "Penelope," which demonstrates the profound courage of its subject and then famously ends, "They will call him brave."

We don't think of artists as courageous, particularly, but the fact of the matter is that they are. They have to be. Or they are liars, or failures, or both.

Let me explain. Art does not admit of inhibition. It is about best effort, commitment, taking the dive, peeling back the skin. In terms of writing, that's what all those exhortations to write down the bones, bleed on the page, write what you know mean. They mean, if it's safe, it's not art. If it doesn't cost you something to get it on the page, it isn't art. If it's facile, it isn't art.

But there's a risk in that. The risk, of course, is that the artist who commits opens herself to pain. If you hold something back, if you hold something in reserve, you can always say, well, I wasn't trying that hard. If you don't put your back into it, when you wipe out (and you will wipe out) you won't fall as hard.

You won't feel vaguely silly (or more than vaguely silly) when you realize that what you've put down on paper is your honest and naked heart, and some people are going to think its twee or shallow or dumb. They're going to think you're up there making an ass of yourself, as with a drunken but honest confession of love.

So what?

In the early nineties, I took a whale watch out of Provincetown with my then-boyfriend. Part of that experience wound up in the short story "Sounding," which will be up at Strange Horizons sooner or later.

A mother and calf fin whale came up and swam alongside the boat for close to half an hour, cruising around, close enough to mist us with their breath. They rolled on their sides and showed us their long fingerless hands, and stared right back at us with ridiculously tiny eyes. I could barely breathe for much of it, and the staff biologist on the boat was practically in tears with wonder.

There were four or five teenaged boys who were making fun of his emotion, smirking, shoving. And you know what?

That's pathetic. It's armor, and it's fear. And anybody who wants to live that way, as far as I'm concerned, is welcome to it.

Akira Kurosawa said that the duty of the artist was "never to look down."

In New York yesterday, we stopped at the bottom of the Empire State Building and looked up. And I was struck by something I am always struck by. In photos, it always seems blocky, ugly, misproportioned. The Chrysler Building is much prettier.

But when you're seeing it the way its meant to be seen, standing underneath it and craning your head back, staring up its height, it's a surging white tower, a line of energy drawn into the sky, every art-deco detail and every window and every angle pulling you up, pulling your head back, until you're balancing on tiptoe and being lifted another fraction of an inch anyway.

It commits to what it's doing, and what it's doing is going up. Perspective makes it balance.

lil_shepherd calls Blood & Iron a superior fantasy, but seems to have a lot of problems with it.

Huh. I thought the thing with the braids was demonstrated in the scene where Seeker is getting ready to go see the Mebd, but honestly, it's possible that it got cut. After ten or twelve revisions, you start to lose track of what you've said where in which version. It's true. Now I have to go read that scene again.

For the record, I never did manage to finish The Mists of Avalon, though I tried several times. I suspect if I had to pick just one Morgan as the antecedent to my Morgan, it would have to be Phyllis Ann Karr's. Although I never did get over Helen Mirren.

But then, who would want to?

Mmm. Helen Mirren.

...Yanno, there's probably way more Bernadette Peters in there than I should admit to in public, come to think of it. (I'm not good. I'm not nice. I'm just right.) Oh, I love The Witch with the loff. She is a Harpy I can get behind.

Mostly, though, I think my Morgan (and my Arthur) are all mine--as people, anyway. Rather than archetypes. And archetypes are boring unless there are people to hook them on to.

One of these days I need to figure out where the Promethean magic isn't being adequately demonstrated, because I thought I'd shown enough fragments to build a picture. On the other hand, this may be another iteration of the concrete/inductive/weird brain cognitive pattern thing, and my entire inability to communicate in any meaningful fashion with strongly deductive/linear thinkers. Which I am working on, I promise. My newer books even have transitions in them.

On the other hand, mrissa liked the book pretty good.
Tags: blood & iron, reviews, writing craft wank

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded