Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oh, you're a writer!

Is there truly any love greater than the love for oneself?

I met an artist recently, a painter, who told me in no uncertain terms that she was extraordinarily talented - or so she's told by all of her peers. Note that not only was she able to lift her skills to a grandiose level, but she was able to include a reference to how many people (all) substantiated this claim. In fact, she said, she had painted over 200 paintings and was going to do another one TOMORROW which should be finished in, oh, about a day. Yes, this is how she phrased it: with a little pause to stroke her metaphorical beard.

Now I was under the impression that great art took a tad bit longer than a day. And if her art is realism - i.e. an exact transcription of the scene around her - doesn't it get a little tedious? Doesn't art need the injection of meaning or purpose rather than

HERE is a sky.

HERE are the clouds.


I'm no master painter, I'm a writer, but I've encountered this very problem again and again. I await the day this painter encounters someone with their MFA. When I say I am a writer, which I rarely do for this very reason, the invariable response is: "Oh! Me too!" If I say I write poetry, then forget it. All is lost. Because what is poetry in the public's mind except "One, two, skip-to-my-loo." I become something flighty and ultra-feminine. I suddenly think in rhymes, because all poets rhyme. For a dime. On a lime. Really, this could go on all day. Out of time.

When an author I've read says she is a writer, she always hears, "Oh, I'm going to do that when I'm retire." So she's developed a technique of inquiring what that person does at present. If they say, "I'm a brain surgeon," she says, "Oh, I'm going to do that when I retire."

What I'm really trying to say is take a step back. Telling me we all write, telling me we all can paint if we only try, that talent is latent in all of us, is like telling a 6'7" tennis player he should try out for basketball. Not only does it offend the sensibilities of all basketball players, whose only requirement to make the team apparently is height, but it offends the tennis player who has, according to you, thrown his whole life away for nothing. Consequently, when I say I write and you tell me we all do it's like telling me my whole life, all of my training, is a waste.

And these 'writers' are so full of themselves, so self-absorbed while I sit beating myself up over a paragraph they say, in my brother's imitation of them, "My writing is so good it makes me want to touch myself. I am overwhelmed by my own sexuality."

Because really, when I lay me down to sleep, I pray not to be the William Hung of literature. And so should you.

1 comment:

  1. For one, I love reading your blog so keep at it. And two, I really love the subjects you are writing on. I often have this same frustration and it's why I rarely ever tell anyone that I write anything anymore because everyone today says they are a "writer" and the books that keep coming out from publishers from these so-called "writers" are a far cry from anything enjoyable. Everyone wants to be a writer and it's because it looks "easy." I've actually had people ask me, "What's so hard about writing?" It's a shame.