Please join us in welcoming WU’s newest contributor, KL Burd! You might remember KL from his guest post this past fall, 7 Ways to Make Early Morning Writing a Reality. “Believing that words have the power to bring about healing and change, KL Burd’s work focuses on the intersection of race, equity, and hope for the future. ” Learn more about KL on his bio page. Welcome, KL!
“One writes out of one thing only—one’s own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.” — James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son
What is art? For so many people, art is relegated to paintings that capture their attention or stoke their imagination. Art can be a twisted sculpture that draws your eyes to sharp edges and jagged concrete, or it can be a photo that begs the viewer to step into the life of a captured scene. Art can be many things, but can it be writing? Or the better question, can writing be art?
The Oxford dictionary has a definition of art that states:
The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
I love their definition, although I would argue that they are leading us towards a specific view of art when they say typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture. Let’s remove those leading words and look at it again.
Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
How many of us would like our writing to be viewed this way—as an application of human creative skill and imagination? I for one, would love this. We study our craft and improve on our form so that our creative skill can be best expressed on paper. We endeavor to work magic—not unlike the blues artist who has spent 15 years getting her guitar to sing every note it produces with the same tone and timbre that dances across her mind. And—in the case of the blues, along with many other art forms—this expression of creativity, of skill, of emotion is brought to life through the person delivering the experience.
Imagine with me two different artists.
The first one plays the right chords, hits the solos, and sings the notes flawlessly. They did well and you applaud their rendition.
Then you get the second artist.
She plays the same chords, hits the same solos, and sings the same notes flawlessly. But something is drastically different. This one rocks you to the core. This one gives you goosebumps. This one sends you into a spiral of relentlessly searching for everything that artist has to offer. Sure, the second artist sang the same notes and played the same chords as the first but they added something that the first one didn’t: [Read more…]