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bear by san

March 2017

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bear by san

my artistic integrity can beat up your dad.

hey. thanks. *g*

I can't possibly respond to everybody who said congratulations. But thank you all so much.

As you may not know if you're joining us in progress, these two books are very dear to my heart (all books are equal, but some books are more equal than others). I'm just dead chuffed that the rest of the world is going to get to write crappy wrongheaded reviews about them, now.


iagor just said something in comments, pursuant to the recent slapfight (I think the troll is dead, but you all can keep batting the corpse around, if you want. I need to shower and feed the cat and then work on my self-indulgent elf rock story and then go geocaching.) that I think ties into what I said, earlier, about the art being serious, even when the artist is aware that she's just some guy.

She said:
You are not Elmore Leonard. You are not Louis L'Amour (although fuck, I wish I could be.) You are not Ray Bradbury. You are not Michael Morcook. You are you. No amount of other people's need for you to be something else will change that.

Write what you must write, to the best of your ability, or you will go nuts. Art is in the eye of the Beholder, Writer is in the fingertips of a Dreamer and all that rubbish.

The Evil Bunnies have spoken.


To which I responded:

We do our thing. And we do it as well as we can. We don't do somebody else's thing.

Because doing somebody else's thing isn't art.

And if you get up there and you tell penis jokes on stage for long enough, and you do it with enough integrity, and you make a point in the process, that's the closest to art you're going to get.


That's it. Integrity. We're not talking about fashion here. You can make whatever value judgements you want about genre work (though you might, if you don't want to sound like an ignoramus, attempt to understand the difference between writing to genre expectations and using genre tropes for literary purposes: John Gardner is particularly smart about this in On Becoming a Novelist) but the art demands what the art demands.

If you need to sing jazz, trying to sing opera is only going to end in tears for everybody concerned. If you need to sing rock and roll, what the Hell are you doing in a choral group?

And I think that's what cheesed me off the most about that particular troll. This idea that if you are creating art, it must be art in a particular mode, as arbited by whoever arbitrates these things. (It's either Them or The Guy. Not sure which. Maybe the Art Arbitration And Standards Guild?)

Because that, child, is the antithesis of art. It's art for old people. (And by old I do not mean mature, I do not mean elder, I do not mean advanced in years; I mean old, in the "Daddy-o, that's old" sense. As in "Don't talk old to me." As in, old and afraid.)

I am willing to out myself here. I have literary designs. (Not merely, I hope, literary pretensions.) Everything I write has at least an attempt at some kind of literary sensibility. And I'll tell you what. I'm not qualified to judge how successful it is.

But I'm trying.

And I'm not afraid to keep trying different things, either.

I've certainly got the ability to write within mimetic constraints. I've done it; at novel-length, even. I am primarily a writer who focuses on character; I want to write about people, human and otherwise. That's what I care about. It's where my kink falls.

But the cool shtuff, for me, the thing that gets me really pushing, is the speculative aspects of any given story. I love that stuff. I love the freedom it gives me to construct metaphors and move through the world and hold up stuff and go "now isn't that odd?"

And yanno, I could have written the Elizabethan books as straight mimentic fiction, and still struck hard at the themes I wanted to hit. I would have been taken more seriously had I done so. There's a lot in that duology--I hope--about hypocrisy and religion and sexuality and God and the church and science and love and society. And heresy. And revolution. And why we blindly follow charismatic leaders, maybe.

I hope.

Anyway, I tried.

But I couldn't have hit the particular bell I wanted to and gotten quite the overtones I wanted until I could put a murdered Christofer Marley in direct confrontation with an Angel of the Lord. And that's where the integrity comes in. In letting the book be the genre book that best suited what I wanted to do, rather than attempting to shoehorn it into a less-fitting space.

And I don't believe that accessibility is the enemy of art. Pursuant to the recent comments over on glass_cats and things I've said here before, I think part of the art of, well, art, is keeping people entertained long enough that they notice there's more going on than the assless leather pants and hairspray. We're back to the fine art of the crotch-grab as literary performance. Some of this shit is art, you know.

I tried to do some things that felt to me important in the Jenny books, too. I wasn't quite up to it at the time, but we'll see if I've learned any better.

So yanno. That's the reason I've got the icon set full of images of people like Master Marlowe and Mr. Bowie and Yevgeny Yevtushenko. To remind myself that just because we're up here humping the microphone, it doesn't mean we're not in service to our art. And that if you do it long enough and with enough flair and integrity and subtext and crunchy bits, eventually somebody twigs that hey, wait a minute, this guy is up to something.

And that if you get lucky, that Something can, in fact, have an impact.

So, sign me,

up to something, and willing to be sincere in public even when it's not fashionable.

Also, I'm funnier than you probably think I am. *g*

*


ETA: (There's also the issue of science fiction having become, I think, extremely insular and self-referential, and some of us are trying to let some light into that. But that's a rant for another day. The club scene is vital. It's important. it's needful. But there needs to be a gradient if you're going to bring new people in. Fantasy still has that gradient. Science fiction needs a new generation of Bradburys.)

Comments

I am willing to out myself here.

That honesty is why I am here.
It's *hard* being out. Damn. Cynicism is so much less vulnerable.
It is a lot less interesting too! I commend you on the ability to put it out there. Finding a balance between honesty and fear is the challenge for writing anything well I have found. Plus you tell of the real work of writing.

I have learned so much from your honesty about writing if that is any consolation. *g*
Thank you.

It's what I do it for, actually. Because this is the blog I wished existed when I was trying to break in to publishing.
As someone who is trying to break into publishing, thank you so much for writing that blog. ♥
Well, the next step was banning. I may be getting more tolerant in my old age.

Also, I was bored.
Yeah, I'll be over in my genre exile with Vonnegut and Morrison and Bradbury and Wagner and Shakespeare and Marlowe and Hesse and Bowie and Lang and LeGuin and Woolf.

Actually, I'll be in *my* genre exile, desperately trying to figure out how to edge into their corner. But you know how it goes.
*dies laughing*

Actually, I am coming to the theory that the most interesting art is often happening in the despised, unformalized, populaist corners.
That takes it back to Ilona's comment that if you're marching to somebody else's drum, you're not creating art, doesn't it?

I mean, in some ways I'm a big believer in formalism and structure. (sonnets!)

But those are tools, not rules.
yes.

that.

which is also, I think, why it's important in writing in a genre like SFF to understand the narrative conventions and what they are there for, so you can choose what you do with them. Exploit, or subvert.
Because doing somebody else's thing isn't art.

Sing it loud, sistah.
There is nothing wrong with literary designs. Writing is a literary design.

And if the mood struck us to write about our own lives and cloak autobiography in a suit woven from half truths and lies otherwise known as fiction because it dulls the pain of self-examination ... well, then that's what we would do with our craft and time.

"Literary designs" is just another way to say you're setting the bar at a different level. And please note that I didn't say "higher" here because the compartmentalized nature of the publishing industry is where that impression comes from. That's why I used the examples I did in an earlier comment on another thread, citing the works of Verne, Orwell, Dickens, Burton, and God as examples of genre literature.

Wanting to write fiction that's appreciated beyond the boundaries established by the market is just another way of saying you want to do this for a long time. More readers equates to longevity.
Bingo.

Also, I want what I'm doing to mean something. But I'm not willing to change what I'm doing to get there.

I just have to do it really really well.

Amen!

To everything you said. Really. Especially for trying to make art in this genre because that really is important. AND for recognizing that science fiction DOES need some new Bradburys.

Rather like rock and roll needs some new Bowies? :-P

Re: Amen!

I'm not sure Bowie has *ever* been accessible, excepting one brief and not very aesthetically pleasing moment in the mid-eighties....

Maybe some new Beatles.
Regardless of one's personal opinion of genre fiction, the argument, "Genre fiction is not art because it's genre fiction," is circular. And therefore not so much with the defensibility.

Not so much with the "argument," even.
A terrific post.
But there needs to be a gradient if you're going to bring new people in. Fantasy still has that gradient. Science fiction needs a new generation of Bradburys.

In recent years, has the low end of the gradient been more likely to separate off as YA in SF than in other genres? The recent young adult SF that I can think of is overtly concerned to make the incluing and worldbuilding easy to access, in a way that I haven't noticed with YA fantasy. The fantasy gradient doesn't seem to have as clear a break around the YA/adult line.

But I'm much better read on the fantasy end of the spectrum, so this may be a trick of the light.
There's not much YA SF, in point of fact.

Maybe this is just self-indulgent...XD

I wrote a poem called Air Guitar--it is about exactly what it sounds like its about. I don't know if it's a piece of art, but it's a piece of my soul, in that it represents everything I want my poems to be--it takes a familiar subject and gives *my* spin on it, which shows it in a totally different light. And there are trees, and a sense of movement, but in the center there is a *person*, a *something*, and framed by this, is a sense of perspective.

Basically, isn't Art supposed to be the expression of our souls? Maybe that's why so many people take criticism so badly, because it's like they're ripping *us* apart, because we've put ourselves into it, really...That's one of the reasons I'm so obssessive and take so long before I ever show my poems to people...Because I want to make it so infallible to that sort of thing...

But anyway...O_o I don't remember what my point was...
I wound up re-reading this post by dint of clicking on the "one trick is all that pony knows" tag, which I did because it delighted me utterly.

Then I followed the links to find out what the hoo-hah was about, which I vaguely remember from the first time around.

I was at the AWP conference recently, and there was a panel on fantasy and two separate ones on fairy tales and ballads and their relationship to contemporary literature.

So what I'm saying is, that even if your troll didn't get it, there are plenty of people who care more about the art than the label on it who do. In "the Academy", even.
;-)