Sunday, September 25, 2011

Artist Identity

I had my first class with my new Yoda, the writing master who will instruct me. We have a total of 5 people (2 men, 3 women) in my class and everyone of them is smart and talented. We were paired up with a critique partner. Mine was a double major, microbiology and English. Yeah, I'm in trouble. Everyone seems like they are very serious about becoming good writers which gives me high hopes for the group.
We did the standard meet and greet where in all likelihood I rambled. Who me? Ramble? Perish the thought.
My takeaway from the first night was:
Thinking of my writing as art - The leader of the group challenged us to think of ourselves as artists, and our writing as art. I have never felt comfortable doing that. I'm a writer, and until the class I didn't see the connection between what I did and what a painter or sculptor does. But as my teacher explained writers are like painters and sculptors. They interpret reality and then present it back to the audience in a way they can better understand it.
I see her point, but it's still going to take a while before I'm comfortable labeling myself as an artist.
When she brought out some famous paintings, it started to click with me. By happenchance, that painting I was given was Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers, and immediately my mind went to Grandmother.
My Grandmother was/is an artist, a painter to be exact, and Sunflowers brought her work immediately to mind. My Grandmother’s specialty was still life and she painted in a very similar style to the the Van Gogh I was looking at. My Grandmother actually had a chance to go pro, but she had two young boys at home, (who ironically enough would end up becoming my dad and my uncle.) Her husband's job had him on the road 3 or 4 nights a week. (As an aside, my Grandmother claims this was a key to their long and happy marriage.) She had to make a choice, the family or her art. She chose her family. She never stopped painting, but no longer did the show circuit.
I'm very close to my Grandmother, but I've never been able to draw worth a lick. Stick figures are about the extent of my talent. But to think that perhaps my writing might be how my Grandmother's artistic talent has expressed itself in me makes me all kinds of happy.
We also talked about valuing our work as art and not to concentrate on the monetary value other people put on it. If just our friends and family read our work, we have made a contribution to the art of our world. This one really challenged me. For me to think my work has value, I really believed that someone needed to validate that by being willing to give up their hard earned cash for it. This idea has made me look at my writing in a new way. If even a single person is entertained or moved by my stories, I have done my job, and have created art.
We also talked a good deal about critiquing. Thanks to the Saucy Ink group, I've had lots of practice critiquing, so I'm feeling pretty confident I can give good, constructive critiques to my partner. One interesting thing she's doing is we have different partners for critiques. In other words, I'm sending my work to a different person than the one I'm critiquing. It should be interesting.
Our first assignment was writing a scene, no more than 3 pages. My mind started reeling. Who writes a 3 page scene? Then I looked at the first scene in "Authenticity" (my unicorn project entry). It's four pages long. I thought about using the first scene in Dream Chaser, and in hindsight that’s probably what I should have done. I chose instead to use the opening scene from a second unicorn story I’m writing (working title Unicorn II, oh the creativity is flowing tonight!) It’s the second unicorn story idea I had for the compilation, and I like it so much that I want to write it.
I’m also working on a story for entry into the Blizzard Short Story contest. More on that later.

No comments: