Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not All Art Speaks To You

Writing a book is a lot like trying to create a piece of art. You don't just work hard at it, you put yourself into it. Your time, your emotions, your dreams, your fears...you lay its foundation with a piece of your soul. And hopefully, if all goes well, when it is complete (or at least, when you think it is complete), you can stand back, wipe off your sweaty brow with the back of your hand, and stare at it in wonder. 
You can think, "this is a marvelous piece of work."
Riding on the heels of that thought is the cloudy fear: "Will anyone else like it?"

All artists dream of seeing their work in places like the Louvre, the Metropolitan, the National Gallery in London. They--we--want it to be loved, appreciated, given the respect and admiration we think it deserves. But often, that does not happen. Our work is passed on, dismissed as something lower than "true" art. It is cast aside.

We get angry. We have worked so, so hard for our art; we don't want to be told all that hard work amounted to nothing. Nobody likes to be told that. But we forget that hard work is never pointless. Sometimes, it just takes a little longer to see the rewards, and often, those rewards are not what we thought they would be.   

We don't always know when we're done, when we've reached the end. Nobody is waving their arms wildly at the finish line, letting us know where that line is, how much farther we have to run. Sometimes, we have to just keep ourselves going, convince ourselves to take just one more step, one more step, go a little bit farther, that line is just around the corner. Blind and ridiculous hope is often the only thing that keeps us going.

We're crazy, of course. There is no finish line. (Or maybe it's more accurate to say, life is full of finish lines, and when you've crossed one, it only means there's another on the horizon.) But we're used to be called crazy. We're artists. It kind of comes with the territory.

Then there are the times we go visit other galleries and museums, looking for inspiration, hoping to meet other struggling artists like us. Instead, what do we find hanging from the exhibit walls? Nothing but crap. At least, we think it's crap. If that's what's being called art, what do we know about what art really is?

And we think to ourselves, how can anyone like this? How can anyone find this worthy for public viewing? How is this work better than mine?

The answer is, it might not be. Or it might manage to affect some people in a way you can't feel. It might have a story behind it you can't see at first glance. Or it might have just gotten lucky, plain and simple.

None of us wants to be the creator of the painting people look at and say, "Why is this considered art?" But is it better to be that person, or the person whose art is never viewed at all? I don't know. All I can say is, it takes is one heart, just one, to touch with our art, and it's all worth it.

This whole post has been my longwinded way of saying I got a rejection letter from a literary agent today. It wasn't the first. It won't be the last.

It never hurts less.

But that doesn't stop me. I'm going to keep going, push myself further, run a little harder...that finish line might very well be just around the corner. I have to keep writing.

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