The time has come. My 2nd, full-length novel is soon to be published. I’m currently waiting on some last-minute fixes to my cover. Formatting is not always my friend, alas…Anyway, if you want to get caught up before the next one drops, just click on these links and buy my first two stories (The Vampire Conspiracy [Book 1]; Shadows & Nightmares [book 1.5]). I highly recommend it as my books are part of a series, The Giftless Chronicles.
As I approach publishing this story, I’ve been pondering what makes art meaningful and enjoyable. What principle can I apply to my art, regardless of what it is, that will make it profound and moving? Is there even a unifying principle?
I believe that there is, at least for me. I use this principle when I sing, conduct, write, and teach. Abandoning this principle creates boring, insipid art. Following this principle will create, at least for them, meaningful art.
Are you ready? Here it is:
Say something interesting, or say something interestingly.
Now, you might say that this is too simple or a pedantic playing on words. I say that you’re wrong. Let me explain by breaking the principle into its two parts.
#1 Say something interesting.
By this, I mean that the artist should tell me something I haven’t heard before, something original. This might be a new idea, or a new twist on an art form, or a new blending of an art form. Something that makes me pause and consider and say, “Wow, I’ve never thought of that before.” Whether it’s synthesizing information in a new way or forging a completely new path, this kind of creation is exhilarating.
Out of the two parts of my rule, many creators want this one the most. It’s flashier to be Debussy, Tesla, Steve Jobs, or Picasso rather than Mendelssohn, Edison, Bill Gates, or Rubens. That’s pride. We want to think of ourselves as our own people. There’s also more forgiveness for mistakes. We forgive someone’s clunky writing or sloppy artistic execution if they’re charting a new path.
Unfortunately, saying something interesting is the harder one to do. So often people try to be original and come off sounding like they are trying too hard. There are only so many original ideas that people come up with at any given time. Even brilliant, original thinkers only come up with a handful of truly revolutionary ideas.
It is a dangerous thing to pursue originality too much. Too many people obsess over it as if it’s the be-all end-all. Instead, obsessive pursuit of originality can freeze an artist, creating the dreaded artist’s block. They’ll throw away a perfectly good piece of art because it’s not “original enough.”
And, sometimes people think that they’re saying something original when they’re not. They think that they’re profound when they’re actually spouting nonsense. All too often, writers mask lack of profundity with excessive verbosity. To quote the great philosopher Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, “Theatricality and deception are powerful agents to the uninitiated.” Blathering on and on doesn’t mean that you are smart or creative. It means that you can’t communicate clearly and concisely.
All of this leads me into the 2nd half of my rule. Unfortunately, we’re out of space for today, so I will continue this thought in my next post.