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What It Means To Be A Good Author

January 30, 2018

My first year of college, I took an art history class as part of my required courses. I'm not really an art person, but I am a history person. I figured this was a good way to get credit for art without actually doing any art. The very first day of class, and every day after that, we discussed what "art" is. What does art mean? What makes something art?

 

Now, I never liked Jackson Pollock. I think he's one of the greatest scam artists of all time. I can fling paint around too, and no one pays me millions of dollars for it. The girl next to me said she was moved to tears by his work. This, of course, was part of a larger discussion about what art is. 

 

We settled on "art is what you make of it". The girl next to me in class saw raw emotion, pain being turned into joy, etc. when she looked at Pollock's work. I saw a great big mess. We each brought something different to it, so we saw something different. 

 

For some reason, I see this discussion a lot around art, but only the kind that goes up in museums. Plenty of people have done the "prank" were they leave glasses, or a trash can, or something else in an art exhibit, and people stop to take pictures of it. Its a funny joke, but no one gets too hard on the people who admire it. We all sort of agree that art is different to everyone. 

 

Then we have movies, and books, and music. For some reason, these don't count as "art", these don't get the same "it is whatever you think it is" mentality. I'm guilty of this too. I've watched the movie Suicide Squad exactly once, and I will never watch it again. Its an awful movie. And while most people agree with this, there are some people who genuinely liked the movie. I can't help but think these people are idiots. 

 

One of my all time favorite books is Wicked by Nancy Holder. I love the book. I think its a great story, and really well written. If you look at its reviews on GoodReads, they aren't great. A lot of people think the story is boring, or drags in some places, or that the characters aren't believable. That doesn't make me like it any less. I don't think Nancy Holder is any less talented. In fact, she is still one of my favorite authors. 

 

I'm trying (and something tells me this will be a lifelong effort) to not question people when they say they like things. Let people enjoy things. There is no reason to argue over what is good or isn't, because art is subjective. I'm trying to do this with my own work, too. 

 

One of the critiques I often get is that I don't put enough detail in my stories. My character's rarely get eye colors, or hair colors. I don't explain the layout of the room. I don't talk about the shadows, the sound of cars in the background, who is standing next to who in a scene. Sometimes I do. More often, I don't. 

 

To me, none of those things matter. They honestly don't. When I read a book, I don't care if the main character is supposed to be six feet tall with black hair. It doesn't matter how many times the authors says this. I don't care. If I picture the character as four foot two with blonde hair, guess what? They are four foot two with blonde hair, and nothing you can say will change my mind. 

 

One piece of writing advice (which, on the whole, I hate) that I agree with is "write stories for yourself". And I honestly do. Which is why my stories lack these details that I don't care about. It is something I'm trying to improve on, and I would never say not to try to improve in your craft, whatever that is, but I'm not sitting up at night, going over every sentence I write, trying to appease other people. Its my story, dammit. 

 

I'm a good writer. I'm a good author. I'm a good artist. Even if I'm the only one who enjoys my art. 

 

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