I was approached about a month ago by David Binder. He wanted to interview me. I said yes. Here is the link to the interview. https://sites.google.com/site/dalanbinder/blog/0635-266post-junemitainterviewwithdavidalanbinder
After answering David’s questions, I realized I had more to say so I am going beyond that interview with much more insights into writing and the artist.
As a writer, I have concluded I am not an artist in the purist sense. I may be disciplined, but writing cannot be restricted to a certain time of day if you want to reach that higher place where art lives. You have to be a a lot crazy to find it. That I am not.
An artist will feverishly write chapters and books for days with little sleep or food. They will gather what ever they can find for a writing surface, including walls.. It is madness and I am not “mad,” I am in a box where writing is done on store bought paper. It is done with good pens. It is done with computers. I conclude it is not art, but it is writing.
We are in a box of convention. We are locked in our phones or in our Facebook pages. We see too much and think too little. The search for honest and true creativity is not something that is searchable. It is something only a few can attain to be called artists. Art cannot be disciplined. It cannot be pulled out of a busy schedule of jobs, family, domestic chores. It cannot be tamed. It must remain the wild, rarely seen animal that it is.
That said, where does it leave the writer who wants to be an artist? Well, we all are not meant to be artists. That is saved for only a select few. However, you can be a writer even if you are not considered an artist.
Journalism, though it has taken a terrible blow in this modern age, is still a viable profession. We will always need news and up to date information. That said, there are many online avenues to earn a living in journalism, and our visual media will always need good writers.
Non-fiction is a growing genre. To write a book of non-fiction takes two things, discipline and research. You do not need to be an expert at anything to write a non-fiction, but you do need good research skills. One of my favorite books I have recently read is a non-fiction by Justin Martin. It is called Rebel Souls, and delves into the first American Bohemians. Justin spent hours searching through archives and seeking many of the original written material from the 1850’s and 60’s. This is a wonderful book to read, and because I am so close to New York City where it all happened, I can relive some of what Justin put forth in the book. Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Rebel-Souls-Americas-Bohemians-Lawrence/dp/0306822261 This book could never have seen the light of day without being a dedicated research professional, such as Justin Martin.
So you want to write a romance. Once again, you can be a disciplined conventional person to write a fictional romance. It can be written at any age, at any stage of your life. Younger writers will be idealists without much experience in the romance department, but with imaginations. Older writers have seen and experienced many romantic moments, and can give a realistic twist to their story. Is it art? I say not, but it is usually entertaining. If there is any romance novelist that is also an artist, I would class Joyce Carol Oates in that narrow place.
So when does the writing cross over into the realm of art? Poets and short story writers do border on the art of writing more profoundly than most novelists, but this is only my opinion. You as a reader can decide to agree or to be inflamed with disdain for that premise.
Why do I contend that poetry and short stories are art? Primarily because those are the two least read genre’s. Those two writing forms are very flexible in experimentation and discovery of motivation and emotion. You don’t have many words to work with to convey your meaning. Most do not find poetry or short stories entertaining, and when you are reading them to get through your English classes, you consider it a grueling experience.
Poetry, especially, requires much more thought. It goes deeply into our secret places, and it is largely personal. I find that writing poetry and short stories defy entrapment and being boxed into a specific time frame.
I have noted my mental state while writing poetry. Often I do get crazy as I try to make the poem work, or as I explore hidden places that most would rather let stay buried. I write poetry in fits and spurts. It is a type of writing that will prey on your mind over time, and the deeper you delve, the more inner you become. That is where art lives.
I often must leave poetry behind when I find myself in dark moods more than light ones. When I start dreaming nightmarish scenarios, it is because I have been touching on God’s world too deeply. When I find I need to write at 1 a.m, even though I need to be at work by 7 a.m., I am nearing the place of art. It will make you crazy and you will start acting out of your normal range of behavior.
I will never be an artist because it scares me too much, and I am not willing to take the risks. I like living in a stable place. I love my husband and my daughter, and don’t want to leave them out of the picture as I pursue some higher place where art lives. I am human, and will remain human. I will be a writer, but never an artist.