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Writing soul-wrenching art

Most creative writing has an element of art, even if it is mostly the craft holding together a book. And we can argue till the cows come home - have a nap, watch a bit of telly, and go out again -we still might not agree about what constitutes true art - exquisite art that lays everything bare, and what is just making a buck. Most, not all, fiction writers will tell you they are artists. It's up to you if you agree or not.

I remember quite clearly explaining to a painter that we each get to determine what is art, as an individual and as a community. She viewed it solely from the perspective if someone is doing something that requires imagination, it is art. I disagreed whole-heartedly. In truth we were both correct. I was thinking of what I call soul-wrenching art.

For the latter a certain amount of skill, dedication, courage and originality needs to wrap itself a unique expression of an inner element to the creator, or mankind in general. If it draws out your soul, it is more than a book, it is clearly art.

This kind of art rarely pays the bills. But there are writers out there with magical works which become insanely popular. So it's not impossible. But this special art comes at a price. It may be too unique for the work to be picked up on in this time.

You may be writing a book that ends up being required reading in schools long after your dead. If this is your dream. Pursue it. The muse will never be happy with anything else.

 

Writing art

Cover of Dangerous Truth with latest details

I'm not going to go into too much detail, as the difference between stretching the soul and writing with the audience in mind is somewhat obvious. You'll suffer the same pitfalls that afflict all writers no matter what.

Most (not all) popular fiction books fall into writing as art. And unless you want to slowly suffocate your soul with the third option (writing for money). It still requires imagination, original expression, and a decent level of quality and, if you happen to have the skills, still reflects a depth to the human character.

This category where you will find a wider audience. If you happen to have a point you want to get across - which you can take or leave as something you want to involve yourself in -hitting the bread and butter audience is going to affect the most people. What do I mean? Do you want to raise questions? Or merely tell a story because the characters won't shut up? There is nothing wrong with either or both.

And let me be clear about something most people miss. Stretching you soul over a masterpiece does not make you more of an artist than someone who likes to be with the cool kids, the readers. If you want to stick to fiction that has a chance of being popular you aren't excluded from being an artist. And whether a tortured artist's work is better than a New York times best seller is purely in the eyes of the beholder. Indeed I suspect many poseurs hang out in the soul-wrenching art end to avoid suspicion they are not as good a writer as they claim.

 

Writing for money

Don't.

Okay sure I'll give you a longer blurb. If you want to write for money, get a degree in journalism. Don't bother getting into writing fiction for the money. Not only are great writers unlikely to become rich, but if you have any artistry in you whatsoever, writing for the money will slowly kill your soul. And if you haven't a creative bone in your body? You are also very unlikely to make any money.

Yes there are gigs that require a decent writer that one would only do for the money - movie adaptations come to mind. But unless you are totally unable to have a living any other way, you're best off creating something original. And if all you have is your writing, I understand. I've been there.

They say you can find happiness in life without a dime, but chances are you would have a better quality of life if you can earn a living of some kind. So it would be much easier to seek happiness with a paying job. So either don't give up the day job, or hold onto your soul with all your strength; because writing for money does nothing but kill the spirit.

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Last updated December 10th, 2017


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