there’s something i have felt for a while and i have tried to ignore but it’s become harder as i have gotten older.
that thing is the perception that a writer is –
1. not an artist and
2. not a thing of quantifiable value.
first things first –
i don’t consider my writing to be art. i tell stories. that’s about it. but, because i feel i am not an artist, per se, doesn’t mean there is no art to writing a story. it drives me crazy to hear artists of other disciplines go on and on about how much they put into their work, and how important it is, and yet, you give them something like a story or a book and the attitude you often get is one of condescension and misunderstanding.
here’s the thing –
art, whatever it is, and don’t believe that writing is not an art, takes time, heart, and passion. you cannot fairly boil those down to say that, well a painting is more valuable because it takes more time.
if i take an hour to paint a picture – something i have done, mind you – is it worth more, OR LESS than a story (or poem) that took ten hours to write? now, you can tell me that, well, a story can, and one might argue is meant to be easily copied and distributed.
we as a society don’t grant literature the same monetary value we give to a stunning portrait or a piece of fine art. it doesn’t mean as much. it isn’t as special.
i think there’s the stigma and expectation that a story is written as a piece meant for mass consumption and which will inevitably be sold and is meant as not ‘art’ but as commerce. to which i reply, what of books of photography? yes, you can buy the book of the reproduction for a resonable price but the original? what of that?
so do you tell me that a book of photos is more artistic than a book of stories?
which comes to value –
to tell me that a piece of ‘fine art’ has more value than a piece of fiction i write is offensive and arrogant. would i try to tell you that my novel is worth the same as say, the Cistene Chapel? not in the least, but i would argue that both have artistic merit and both were done with passion. both have value.
what all this means, to me, is that too often, too many people see a written work and, becsause ‘anyone can do that’ they devalue the work. by the same token, a ‘fine art’ is raised onto a pedestal because not as many people have that ability or talent.
in the end, what all of this says is that too many of us rely on arrogance and assumption and not fact or truth. we don’t ask – how long did it take you to do that – because it’s seen as rude or ignorant. it’s a shame, as a writer, that no matter what i do, i will never be seen in the same light as the other arts. i don’t claim to change the world with what i do, but in the same way that an artist invests time, money, and passion into their works, i invest the same things. maybe if we all appreciated the investments we all make in our passions, we’d respect each of the arts more fully.