I can empathize with Daryl L. L. Houston in his Daily Post, Abandoning the Frankenstory. The author describes his experiences with the writing process and the periodic struggles that emerge along the way. After hours of reworking and threading pieces together, he decided to turn his writing over to colleagues for peer review. He ends the post with the following questions: How do you handle grappling with ideas that you’re having trouble turning into prose that satisfies you? Do you keep struggling, put them aside for a short time, or just give up?
I often struggle with the structure and content of my writing. Sometimes I will fiddle with a sentence or a paragraph for over an hour! Needless to say, this gets frustrating and I find that shifting my attention to something else, such as going outside for a walk, calling a loved one, or simply returning to it later, helps a lot. Giving myself time to think about what I want to say and how I want to say it, even subconsciously, usually allows me to get past these barriers more easily. I find that I tend to be most productive when I start fresh the next morning. (a nice cup of coffee also never hurts.)
There is another aspect of this post, besides dealing with writer’s block, that I think deserves attention. He seems to be emotionally torn over what he observes about the response to his writing and what he has learned to expect in the technique and quality of literary art.
“It occurred to me…that the (stories) that come more easily to me tend to be the ones that my peers have a better response to in the end. Well, this is something of a dangerous conclusion, because it invites laziness and lowered expectations. I also have this notion that making art ought to require some effort in order to be worthwhile, to be worth the attention of whoever’ll consume the art. (I know this is flawed in any number of ways, but I have trouble shaking it.)”
The segregation of Culture, that’s a capital “c”, and popular art is an age-old battle that has influenced the participation and engagement in many arts institutions and artistic practices. Symphony orchestras, for example, have been notoriously associated with the “elitist” image and the perception of “us” vs. “them” in the arts. With the advent of technology and social media, however, members of the arts community are trying to blur those lines, fostering stronger relationships and greater trust among society. While I believe artistry requires a certain level of quality and prowess, I do not think it should distinguish different art forms as being more valuable than another. Every genre has something unique to offer and I think the value of art depends on the perception of the beholder in addition to the talent of the creator.
Is the division between what is considered “art” and not prominent in society today? Is this a perpetuated, imaginary notion, or is there a real reason for such division?
It is time to wrap up the Frankenstory of High vs. popular art and time to start a new story of creativity, acceptance, integration, and engagement in and across all forms of art and society.