Letter from a Writer to an Artist

Dear T___,

Writing is wordplay. It is experimentation. Some days, it’s completely dorktastic; other days, it is full of academic pretension fooling no one. Sometimes, the “Muse” smiles upon us like a ray of sunshine through a golden morning haze, and we are blessed. Do artists resent happy dabblers in art? Weren’t you all dabblers, once – small children with grubby fingers trying to figure out what to do with colors and lines and bits of chewing gum or Play-Doh? Did you spring from the womb with an intuitive sense of the colors and textures that could move grown men to tears or cause a line to form around the block, just for a glimpse of your work? How did the coffee grounds experiment work out? Is that the thing you will be known for when you die?

Do you turn up your nose at people whose mastery of perspective makes every attempt at realism seem Cubist? Or whose cubes consist of formulaic little boxes constructed of nine straight lines drawn over and over but never shaded? People who sneer are called “snobs,” and you aren’t one of them. Neither am I.

If I can fingerpaint – doubtless, getting more paint on my hair than on the paper in front of me – or sketch a table on which rests a cell phone bigger than my head, or sculpt bears in marzipan “clay” and eat them, then surely you can write a story.

Marzipan Bears

All that separates the dabblers from the “greats” is to be driven by curiosity, dedicated enough to pay attention and practice, caring enough to learn from others and perfect the craft, willing to devote precious time to more practice, courageous enough to try new things and to fail – and finally, self-effacing enough to dust themselves off, laugh, and try again. It’s not neuroscience.

I avoided the cliché, because it is actually rocket science. When you and I – artists and writers – manage to put down on canvas or paper the things that only existed, before, in our imaginations, a funny thing happens. Inventors and engineers and scientists may laugh, but they get it. They, too, see the possibilities – we bridge the gap together. They take the fantastic and turn it into the real. Which came first: science-fiction journeys to the moon and Mars, or rocket ships that took human beings into outer space?

WE had a hand in that. We help make people believe in what could be.

Don’t ignore your creative urges – especially the ones not satisfied by your usual media. You just never know where they might lead.

And if all they lead to is a good belly laugh, well… the world desperately needs more of those.



Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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12 thoughts on “Letter from a Writer to an Artist”

  1. Of course, if you are a painter, and spill the paint, you have a mess to lean up. If you are a sculptor and drop a mallet on your foot, that hurts.

    Now a writer? Well there is always carpal tunnel, forgot to save file, and Pierre is annoying me again.

    Creativity is great. But we also need consumption. Don’t knock the consumers. Without them, there is no need for creativity.

      1. I did not say you evvver have.

        But a lot of people do, now a days.
        Apparently, they forget a balance is needed.

        Too many artists, and they starve. (But a Renoir is cheap!)
        Too few writers, and the libraries go under!
        (But a book is worth $1,000!)

        But my advice is still the same:
        Do not spill the paint.
        Do not drop the mallet on your toe.
        (You already broke an ankle, so your quota is met!)

        And: Always save your work!
        For carpal tunnel, Try Tylenol, and a good massage!
        You know, that is what husbands are for….

        And if you cannot “wrest”, then for a while “rest”.
        The little grey cells need time to compute!

      2. Sound advice from such a goad and troublemaker! 😉 Spilling the paint, even dropping the mallet can provide fodder for art and stories. But rest is important. Allowing the fodder to be digested by the brain is important. We forget, because the world moves at a pace that makes billionaires of those who sell indigestion pills.

  2. I had a long talk this morning with an artist working on creating one piece of art per day and sharing it out. His name is Carl Yoshihara, you can find him on Facebook or google his name + art to find his website. He’s an artist’s artist… in that the priority is not the sale. Nor is creativity a goal or an endstate. It’s a way of life for Carl. He calls it exploring life, and Life is Art according to Carl. Now I have been following Carl’s creations each day since he started this endeavor at the beginning of the month, but what I found out this morning is that his daily creation isn’t just digital art, sketching, or painting. He says that it might be a poem that he created, a song he’s put together (yes, he’s got a range of interests and talents), or even a recipe that he’s come up with. Holly your post is very inspiring, thanks! It’s great to be in the company of creatives. How boring life would be without those sparks of art in all it’s different forms.
    Todd Kruse recently posted…Donut Shop, DawnMy Profile

  3. After reading Todd’s comment… I should’ve post a pic of my porcini mushroom and miso pasta. that I’m having at this moment. It’s super simple to make and crazy good. 🙂

  4. Belly laughs would be an appropriate response to my artistic efforts, but I can laugh at them too. It doesn’t take away from the good feelings I experience when I lose myself in an afternoon of drawing or watercolor.

    Perhaps writing, for the artist, would be a similar type of experience, almost a meditation, as long as one lets go of the need to create perfect prose. The act of creating marzipan bears must have required intense concentration–a bit of zen experience?
    Patricia Stoltey recently posted…Working on Updates and Enhancements This WeekendMy Profile

    1. To lose yourself in this “meditation” without having any serious expectations of perfection is bliss, sometimes. As for creating the marzipan bears, there was the absolute certainty that the outcome would be tasty, if goofy looking, to encourage me to keep at it. Oh, you have to see the whole artistic “installation,” though! http://jahangiri.us/2013/blogcrawl-how-to-create-ladies-night-at-the-boozy-bears-spa/ (with instructions, if you care to give it a try!)
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Twitter Quote Retweet Spam: a New TwistMy Profile

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