My favourite forms of art tell stories. Whether it is writing or dance, painting, poetry or songwriting; the medium helps those on the receiving end of the art engage, think, be moved.
Tell stories that leave people changed, or more deeply connected to each other, or moved to action. Often good art exposes the questions and the brokenness of the world. It has a way of binding us together in our common humanity.
It is because of this storytelling element to art that I have often appreciated gritty songs, sad films, folk songs that tell stories about people, and visual art that is provocative and makes you think.
As a low-grade songwriter, very few of the songs I have written have not been borne out of pain or sorrow, either my own or observing another’s grief.
It is out of this backdrop of appreciating what is real and honest that my wrestling the last couple of months has come into play. New questions have become more prominent in my thinking about producing good art. I don’t feel satisfied with answers yet.
There have been points where life has been so difficult, so painful and so sorrowful that it has been impossible to produce art of any kind.
I have never experienced that before.
Usually a good amount of pain is prime for creative power. Unexpected life lesson: sometimes pain can strip you of everything, even the ability to create.
This was quite foreign to me, the melodramatic artist of sorts. Why can certain pain help you create and other kinds of pain stop you from creating? How does an artist produce with honesty when sometimes discretion is best? What does it look like to be real and produce honest art when the only subject matter that comes to mind could hurt your relationships? Are all questions you are asking, questions the world is ready to face? Are some questions best left between you and God and a small close few to work through?
There is a tendency these days amongst the blogger world to try to create “community” and relationships. Whilst I appreciate the many of you who read and engage with my writing here, I have to confess that becoming your best friend has never been my intention. I cannot do that. Who has the capacity for depth with that many people? I want a small world with more in depth relationships. I write on here because I like to write and enough of you are kind enough to be humoured to read what I write.
Writers have a message to share. I want people to live lives fully awake with meaning and purpose. I write about real things in lieu of that. As a writer, how do you write to challenge and push people to be real and honest whilst leaving your life to have privacy and mystery? There are levels of authenticity that I share to challenge the world to be honest but there are levels of intimacy I don’t want to share because I think those are for special people who actually know me well in real life.
What is the best intersection between art and honesty? Artists can be cultures’ prophets who challenge and push people to feel awkward and a bit uncomfortable so they think and rethink. But artists also need to know when discretion, privacy, personal close relationships and intimacy are better than the medium to the masses. I don’t know what that balance looks like yet. Do you?