“Four years before I had written Soldiers’ Pay. It didn’t take long to write and it got published quickly and made me about five hundred dollars. I said, Writing novels is easy. You don’t make much doing it, but it is easy. I wrote Mosquitoes. It wasn’t quite so easy to write and it didn’t get published quite as quickly and it made me about four hundred dollars. I said, Apparently there is more to writing novels, being a novelist, than I thought. I wrote Sartoris. It took much longer, and the publisher refused it at once. But I continued to shop it about for three years with a stubborn and fading hope, perhaps to justify the time which I had spent writing it. This hope died slowly, though it didn’t hurt at all. One day I seemed to shut a door between me and all publishers’ addresses and book lists. I said to myself, Now I can write. Now I can make myself a vase like that which the old Roman kept at his bedside and wore the rim slowly away with kissing it. So I, who had never had a sister and was fated to lose my daughter in infancy, set out to make myself a beautiful and tragic little girl.” – William Faulkner, An Introduction to The Sound and The Fury
I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “art for art’s sake.” I’ve always considered it to be one of the most crucial stages any artist must go through.
It’s easier said than done, mostly because we feel life’s a competition. We play to win, and the pleasure of simply playing the game is not enough.
Expectations tend to kill most things. The anticipation, that bizarre eagerness that seems to swallow us whole at times. We imagine the future so often and at so late hours of the night that when it’s there (or when we’re there), we don’t feel anything at all.
If you care more about book sales, more about what other people will think about your story, if you care more about reviews and ratings, and if you feel like you absolutely have to write the best thing ever written, then you’re simply doing more harm than good.
Art needs freedom, because art is a way of attaining freedom. Art is a way of creating freedom, of inventing freedom.
I once wrote on this blog that I’m not the guy who writes what you want to read, I’m the guy who writes what he wants to write. And it’s been like this for quite some time now.
True magic in the world of art is simply realizing that art is not about being right or wrong, or providing answers or asking questions. Art is not about giving something to people, or about creating something from scratch. Art is simply about describing the world as you see it.
That’s why there’s so much emphasis on developing a voice, a style.
Magic is when you are willing to say what you want to say, how you want to say it, without even worrying about the consequences. Magic is when you give others the chance to see the world through your eyes. You give them that, and it doesn’t even matter if they agree or disagree with it.
If they love the world you paint or they hate it.
What matters is the fact that you are free to do your art.