Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Tragedy, Talent, Art, Craft

I don't find tragedy to be a prerequisite for art. I think it comes from everywhere and anywhere, and it's up to the artist in all of us to capture it and write it or paint it or sing it or play it when it drops out of the ether (or the void). I think sadness and pain can inflict scars, and for sensitive and talented souls those scars shape a unique worldview and prism through which art can, if cultivated, spring forth.

I subscribe to a theory espoused by Stephen King. It was made in reference to writers, but I think it applies to all "artists." Basically, there's a minute group of people who are blessed with born gifts that reduce us all to a state of humbled awe: Shakespeare, Mozart, Van Gogh, and so on. Then there's a much larger group of people with some talent, people who are good or competent at some form of art. These people, with a lifetime of work and study and sweat, can attain the status of "very good."

I think about this theory a lot when I'm toiling at the craft of writing. It deflates things from the level of sublime art to that of humble craftsman. Words pile on top of words, and with a lot of work and a little luck, it might become something someone else would enjoy... and with a lot of luck, it will stay with someone and perhaps be passed on.

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