Friday, January 11, 2008

Art & Fear -- Part 3

The second subheading under Art & Fear's chapter, "Fears About Yourself," is:

Talent (my comments will be in dark blue brackets)

"Talent, in common parlance, is 'what comes easily.' So sooner or later, inevitably, you reach a point where the work doesn't come easily, and -- Aha, it's just as you feared!

"Wrong. By definition, whatever you have is exactly what you need to produce your best work. There is probably no clearer waste of psychic energy than worrying about how much talent you have--and probably no worry more common. This is true even among artists of considerable accomplishment.

" a gift, and nothing of the artist's own making...

"Were talent a prerequisite, then the better the artwork, the easier it would have been to make. But alas, the fates are rarely so generous. For every artist who has developed a mature vision with grace and speed, countless others have laboriously nurtured their art through fertile periods and dry spells, through false starts and breakaway bursts, through successive and significant changes of direction, medium, and subject matter. Talent may get someone off the starting blocks faster, but without a sense of direction or a goal to strive for, it won't count for much. The world is filled with people who were given great natural gifts ... yet never produce anything. And when that thappens, the world soon ceases to care whether they are talented.

"...whatever his initial gift, Mozart was also an artist who learned to work on his work, and thereby improved. In that respect he shares common ground with the rest of us. Artists get better by sharpening their skills or by acquiring new ones; they get better by learning to work, and by learning from their work...So when you ask, 'Then why doesn't it come easily for me?', the answer is probably, 'Because making art is hard!' What you end up caring about is what you do, not whether the doing came hard or easy.

[Drat. I so want it to be easy...]

"Talent is a snare and a delusion..."

[Here and there in the book the authors include boxed asides. This section has one of them:]____________________________________________

A Brief Digression In Which The Authors Attempt to Answer (Or Deflect) an Objection:

Q. Aren't you ignoring the fact that people differ radically in their abilities?

A. No.

Q. But if people differ, and each of them were to make their best work, would not the more gifted make better work, and the less gifted, less?

A. Yes. And wouldn't that be a nice planet to live on?____________________________________________

Buy Art & Fear at$10.36. 122 pages.

Read Part 4


Pam Halter said...

"Talent may get someone off the starting blocks faster, but without a sense of direction or a goal to strive for, it won't count for much."

There's that word again: GOAL

We have to have something to work toward or we won't get there. Work being the opportive word here.

I also agree that you get better the more you work at it. Spending time with other writers helps me, too. As iron sharpens iron ...

Patricia W. said...

Great series of post, Brandilynn. I linked to them on my blog. Now I'm printing them out to share with my son. Maybe I'd better go buy the book...

Nicole said...

Authenticity is the kicker, no? These guys know what they're talking about in the "been there, done that" sense. I did a post once on my blog (Fear and Loathing in Writerland) about the love/hate relationship I have with my writing.

When the fear factor enters, we forget about subjectivity. I hear loud and clear what your inserts are saying, BC, and I hope to read the novel where you cast all fears to the passing winds along with all the external voices and pressures and just write that beauty.

But you hit on it--agents, editors, publishers, professionals in general, including other authors, too--all of these sound like they're demanding perfection, but, honestly, we have only to read published books to find it doesn't exist: from anyone on earth.

Richard Mabry said...

Excellent series. Thanks. I've put a link into my blog post today pointing to this one and adding my two cents worth. I agreed with your comments...of course.

Lynette Sowell said...

Oh... I can relate to this entire topic. (I'm catching up on posts, coming off a mondo-humongo deadline) It's the curse of being an underachieving overachiever. Fearing it won't be right or anywhere close to perfect (ha). I think we're too impatient with ourselves and sometimes growth takes place without us realizing we keep working.