Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Art is what art wants to be.

Watching a documentary on the German painter, Gerhard Richter.  He's painting an abstract.  He slaps some paint on a canvas, steps back, then slabs some more on, then steps back, crooks his head, steps forward and slops it around, steps back.

"Not at all what I planned," he says (something like).  "But a painting is what a painting wants to be."

I feel the same way about stories.  When I start worrying about what the outside world wants, I get in trouble.  When I turn it around and only worry about what the story wants, I'm on firmer ground.

The way I think of it: This story really happened in some alternate universe and I've been granted a glimpse of it and my job it to try to write it down as close to the way it really happened as I can.

I basically nestle into the story and settle in and feel it as much as I can.  Which is why I need time, why I need space and lack of pressure.  I'm coaxing the story to come to me, or trying to catch glimpses through a deep fog.

So half the battle is getting my head into that space.  The writing is just the tool, and sometimes I'm clumsy with the tool and sometimes I'm surprisingly adept.

I remove ego from this, and whether the outside world will like something, by saying to myself -- "This is surprisingly good."  Because, no matter the outside standards or the inside standards, to me, anything that comes out is "surprisingly good" in that it works at all.  I mean, that it isn't dead on the page and feels real means it's "surprisingly good."

The whole thing surprises me, and that's good.

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