Thursday, July 28, 2011

Writing # 2

I grew up around art museums and with stories of 20th century visual artists. I got both of the idea of the artist as a rebel, a revolutionary and the artist who gives all for art. A lot of the artists had messy personal lives. They were bad husbands (usually husbands) and parents. They drank too much. They stayed out late with other artists or other women. What mattered was the art.

In no way were they Zen masters.

I don't think you need to mess up your personal life to be an artist. Better to not drink, not cheat, not go crazy or die young.

None the less, I focus on the art, not on self-improvement.

I sold my first short story in 1972. It came out in New Worlds in 1973. That is 40 some years of working at writing. More than that, since I began writing in grade school. As far as I can tell, my writing has not made me a better, saner person. But I am a better writer than when I started.

I have no problem with people using art to explore their lives, understand themselves, become saner and happier. But what they doing is art therapy, not art (I say, being something of a snob).

My irritation with the idea of the "professional," working writer, making production, is also tied to what art is to me. I'm with Byron and archie.

I'm a lot more with the Romantic idea than with High Modernism. Art should explain the world and change the world. Artists should speak for those who have not yet found their voices. It should be for the world's sake, rather than purely for its own sake or for the artist's sake.

I'm not saying any of this is right and true. It's what I think.


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