Art for the sake of art. In Latin it’s: Ars Gratia Artis. That’s the motto of MGM, if you look at their logo of the roaring tiger, above his head is a ribbon with those words written across it.
I’ve always loved that idea. Art for the sake of art.
As a writer, my art, the moment I know I’m creating art, is when the world falls away. Once that happens, when I’m in the thick of a story, skies open up, the sun twists and turns; I own the light and the stars and the shadows. I allow the elements to frame what I’m doing in just the right way. That’s when my art comes alive for me. That’s when I’m writing for the sake of writing.
Art however…oh art for the sake of art. Not for the almighty dollar, not for the fame, the notoriety, but to make tangible the way an artist sees the world. I love that.
I recently read the essay “One Hundred False Starts” by F. Scott Fitzgerald which was published in The Saturday Evening Post on March 4, 1933. It is an interesting insight to his process. The false starts are snippets he’d written down on pieces of paper that floated around him, on his desk, in his pockets. Bits of paper with bits of a story line written on them. Most of the ideas, he claims, he’ll never run down and make anything out of.
Of course, that had me thinking about my own process. There are big ideas, bull-ish ideas that won’t let go until they are satisfied their story has been properly writ. However, when I need a break from the books, I write short stories. Some ideas come to me quickly, but sometimes I skim through my archive of ideas to find inspiration. And my archive of work, it’s pretty large. I have a whole file on my computer dedicated to documents named “just an idea” “idea22” “Idea on a Sunday evening” “Idea 543”. The file folder is bulging with my random thoughts, my angst, and sometimes it seems just writing for the sake of putting words on paper. I also have note books called “works in progress”, the tactile version of my own one hundred false starts. Bits and pieces of paper with ideas jotted down. Ideas that seemed interesting at the time, that seemed like something worth following through with. Like something worth holding onto. Continue reading
The fall school year is in full swing. The smoke that hung low and choked us for too many weeks has loosened its hold around our necks, and a glance at the ten-day weather forecast shows highs in the seventies after we fight the next two days of 95-degree heat.
Here’s a whole bunch of jumbled thoughts and oversharing for a Wednesday morning.
My mortality has been a mirror held up to my face lately, and no matter how I keep trying to ignore it, it’s not going away.
It’s not that I was trying to ignore it in the first place, I just wasn’t trying to be overly attentive to my mortality. Yet, here we are. The beast mortality has been my strange bedfellow for several months now. I guess we got used to each other.
Have we become friends? No, that’s not quite right. We’ve become pen pals who sit next to each other yet refuse to speak to one another aloud. To be honest, I kind of like the long drawn out contemplative conversations we have via letters.
Have you seen the movie Grosse Pointe Blank, where John Cusack (Martin Blank) a freelance assassin goes back to his home town for his twenty-year high school reunion? There are some awesome quotes in that movie, and when I went to my own twenty-year high school reunion, I used that movie as inspiration. (I didn’t go trying to assassinate anyone, I mean more along the lines of the quotes. The quotes became a crutch of hilarious inspiration.)
Well, I’ve come back to my childhood home for a visit and I find myself recalling Martin Blank’s words once again. At one point in the movie he leaves a message on the answering machine of his therapist. “Dr. Oatman, please pick up, pick up! It’s Martin Blank. I, I’m standing where my, uh, living room was and it’s not here because my house is gone and it’s an Ultimart! You can never go home again, Oatman…but I guess you can shop there.”
I’ve been writing again. I know this is a thing where, if you’re reading this, you aren’t shocked. I mean, I’m a writer after all and isn’t a writer supposed to write?
Well, I’ve had some fun news and I finished a book which threw me off track and stalled me for a bit.
If you recall, a while back I was having a difficult time trying to figure out who I was all because of a question asked on the Grant application I was filling out. Well, I heard back from the grant people and was awarded a bit of money for my writing! This is the first time I’ve applied for a grant and was accepted into the community. (Insert momentary celebration here.) Continue reading
I lived in Colorado for a few years, and while I was there I wrote. A lot. I was finding my voice and trying to figure out my process. I wasn’t doing these things consciously, I was just writing because I had to. Looking back now, of course I see all the lessons on writing I was learning.
During that time I also began submitting short stories. I feared submitting anything to an agent then, that seemed like such a pipe dream.
One of the publications, Mountain Gazette, had a contest every issue, they published a black and white picture and challenged their readers to write a 1000 word story about said photo. I didn’t always like the pictures, but one caught my attention. I wrote a short piece called “Ending Up.”
The Gazette did not publish my story. I pulled it out two years ago and gave it a polish. It has now won me second place in a literary contest and was just published in Flare, a literary magazine.
I just received my copy this past week and I always get a little thrill at these stepping stones in my career. So of course, I had to share this news with my three loyal followers.
Click here to open the short story.
Oh, and you might be wondering if I saved that photo?
Of course I did.
Here’s something. If you have tried to use my contact form in the past few months, it was not working well with all the back end stuff. Apparently, website wasn’t talking nicely to the hosting site which was in a silent argument with the ISP which was being passive aggressive with the godaddy site (which I’m not quite sure what that had to do with anything, but here we are) and THAT site was on a hunger strike against the mistreatment of 1’s (or was it 0”s?)….
All that being explained…HEY GUYS, my contact form is working again. If you’ve tried to contact me in the past and I haven’t answered you, please try again. We’re cooking with gas now!
Was talking to a junior in high school who had an assignment for English class. After reading the first short story from The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, the teacher wanted the class to write a two-page paper about the things they themselves carry. They could be physical things or metaphorical things.
After reading the papers, the teacher commented that he thought the class would have more fun with the assignment. He mused that he thought the kids would talk about more physical items, instead, there was a lot of emotional and rather serious topics brought up.
I’m not sure if that is a sign of our times, but if I had talked to my seventeen-year-old self and made her write that paper, I know she was carrying the weight of the world. So it would have been emotionally driven in ‘my time’ as well.
Of course, being a writer, I started thinking about that idea and the book. I remember reading the first chapter of Mr. O’Brien’s book. I was in college and that opening chapter blew my mind. Tim O’Brien’s writing was mind-blowing. And beautiful and horrible and lovely. (I found the first chapter here if you want to check it out.)
All of those thoughts lead to my present day self. What do I carry? Without a filter, if I had to dump it all out and write about it right now, at this very moment… Continue reading
In seventh grade we had to memorize the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth.
After we had the poem memorized, we then had to stand in front of the class and spout the whole thing. Then we were graded. I remember sitting there and as my fellow classmates might have been embarrassed and shy about standing in front of everyone, no one was paying attention to them. We are all mouthing the lines along with them, grateful for the extra practice. Continue reading