Because the universe loves me, I found myself in Paris recently with nothing to do but sight-see and visit great museums. I made my way to the Pompidou, which had a mind-boggling retrospective on the works of Jeff Koons, whose iconic Balloon Dog you see here. Upon investigating Koons’ life and work, I discovered that some of his earliest attempts at visual representation were nothing more than finding magazine ads that piqued his interest, framing them, and calling them art. Clearly he had artistic ambition, and also artistic vision, but his ability to exercise his vision? Not so much. So we can say that at that point in his career, the artist’s “eye” had developed further than his “hand.” But why are we talking of Jeff Koons? He’s an artist, right? And this is WriterUnboxed, not ArtistUnboxed, no? So let’s examine this notion of eye and hand from a writer’s point of view.
For the sake of this discussion, we’ll say that our writer’s eye is our understanding of what we want to express, and that our hand is our ability to capture and convey those ideas. The advancement of these attributes, the development of both the writer’s storytelling interests and the effective exploration of those interests, is the basic arc of a writer’s career. We go from not knowing anything and not knowing how to express it to knowing much and having many strategies and tools for expression. That’s the growth of a writer. That’s something we can chart.
So now what I’d like you to do is make two lists. [Read more…]