Do you think it's possible for an artist create touching, meaningful art if they lived a life without tragedy? While I haven't had an ideal life, I'm still the product of a privileged, middle-class, suburban life that's never been exposed to the horrors of war, violence, addiction, abuse, sudden deaths of loved ones, or any of the tragedies that have befallen the great artists. While I feel incredibly lucky so far, it feels like the best art in our history came from some very broken people.
Absolutely. I wish I had the mental wherewithal right now to do a web search for the essay Joyce Carol Oates wrote on this very subject several years ago (I think it ran in The New York Times Magazine, but I could be mistaken), where she took on the whole “suffering artist” topic as an extension of an American/Puritan ethic.
Look, everything I say about writing is my opinion, and only that. I am an authority on my own work, barely, that’s all. But I firmly, absolutely believe that good writing rises from two, intimately connected, places: empathy and honesty. The extension of the argument “write what you know” — when taken literally — means that we shouldn’t have fiction. But that’s not what it means, at least, not for my purposes; rather, it’s write what you know to be true. That’s an emotional truth, a universal truth. Certainly, experience of trauma and other hardships will provide insight into those things, will, perhaps, provide an access into writing about them that others cannot achieve. But to deny imagination, empathy… that’s utter nonsense.
I will not deny that there are some beautiful, powerful works brought to us by some very damaged, tragic souls. But I do not — I can not — believe that personal suffering on a Grand Scale is required to create meaningful or lasting work. I do not, and cannot, believe that we must “suffer for our art,” if by suffering for our art we mean exposure to the cruelest and most inhumane experiences imaginable. Anyone who has struggled to put the right words on the page, the right line on the canvas, the right shape cut into the marble, etc… they have suffered for their art. They needn’t become heroin addicts to then prove it.
I’m sure there are many who will disagree with me. But from where I’m sitting, it’s your voice, your ability to imagine, to empathize, and to relay those things that connect us all with honesty and courage that will create great art.
“We love our superheroes because they refuse to give up on us. We can analyze them out of existence, kill them, ban them, mock them, and still they return, patiently reminding us of who we are and what we wish we could be.”—Grant Morrison (writer of comics)
“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”—C. S. Lewis (via victoriousvocabulary)
“They [Bob Odenkirk and David Cross] were running the [Mr. Show] room as a reaction to how Bob’s Saturday Night Live experience was. On SNL, from what I understand, if you pitch an idea and it goes to the read-through and isn’t used that week, you’re encouraged to never bring it up again….
“It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing - they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”—Stephen Fry, Moab is My Washpot (via letteratura-litterature)
I'm working on a script for a comic I'm creating. My cast is primarily female and I'm worried I have too many women. When you're writing CM (since your cast is largely female) do you ever think, "there should be a guy in here somewhere?" And if so, what do you do? I'm really comfortable writing women, and I love my characters... I see no need for anymore men in the story at this time, but I'm afraid it won't appeal to a large enough audience. 3 prominent women to 1 supporting male? Too much?
>too many women
I’m sorry, I don’t know what those words mean in that order.
>do you ever think, “there should be a guy in here somewhere?”
>I see no need for anymore men in the story at this time, but I’m afraid it won’t appeal to a large enough audience.
You’re trying to sell a thing you haven’t even written yet. Write the story you would write if you were just going to put it in a drawer.
“We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen. Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. But approach the President, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?”—A secret service agent • Warning Mr. Met—the mascot of the New York Mets—not to get close to President Clinton during a 1997 baseball game in which Clinton spoke. AJ Mass, the man inside the suit at the time, wrote about this experience in a new book, because who wouldn’t? (via shortformblog)
“Consider that you can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. As you read this, you are traveling at 220 km/sec across the galaxy. 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not ‘you’. The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star. Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato. The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist. So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it. This is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the beautiful colors you see represent less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum.”—(via we-are-star-stuff)