In this week’s guest blog post, author Tom Barczak discusses whether writers are artists too.
Every time I speak to a room full of authors, I ask the same two questions, seemingly unrelated, but they do have a point.
I ask: “Who considers themselves an author?” Most people in the room raise their hands, depending on their definition of that particular claim.Then I ask: “Who considers themselves an artist?” Only a few of those hands formerly raised are raised a second time.
Then I ask: “Who considers themselves an artist?” Only a few of those hands formerly raised are raised a second time.
And that I think is a mistake.
When someone goes to a gallery, they don’t go to buy a painting, they go to buy an artist. When most people go to a bookstore, most people don’t go to buy a book. They go to buy an author.
They do that because, well I believe, writing is very much an art. It’s as much an art as painting, dance, or music. And how would you, or could you, expect great work from a painter, or dancer, or musician who didn’t consider what they did as art, or themselves for that matter as artists.
It is that very thing, that acknowledgement, that taking of responsibility, that I believe makes their work great, that makes what they do, art. Because they’ve taken that responsibility for it. There is now a piece of them in it. And they can never get it back.
So why do we sell ourselves short in that regard? I think it’s because most of us don’t want, or afraid of the responsibility. Of the risk.
As for myself, I am a visual artist as well, a painter and illustrator. Perhaps that’s why I feel so strongly about this.
I’ve always loved the old coffee table books I remember from when I was a kid, with the illustrated plates before every chapter.
With my first published written work, Awakening Evarun, a 6 part Kindle serial like the old dime store serial novels, I wanted to illustrate it. For me, my drawings and words are somewhat intertwined. I often sketch my way through writer’s block. With my first novel, Veil of the Dragon, I did the same, illustrating every third chapter.
I love the way they both worked together as a whole, through the words and the drawings.
My latest novel, Mouth of the Dragon: Prophecy of the Evarun, published by Perseid Press, is not illustrated, although the Dragon on the cover is mine. It’s been a good reminder for me that one art form need not necessarily be dependent on the other. But still for me they will always be inseparable. I will always sketch my way through writers block. I will always write what I see as the story in front of me.
I write like I paint. I put down the story as I see it before me. For me, it’s a story that’s’ already written. It’s already real, just someplace else. My job as a writer, and as an artist, is to translate it in such a way that the reader will understand what they see. That whatever purpose there is to my seeing it will be passed on to them. You see, in the end, it’s not even my story. I just get to carry the message.
One of the things I just mentioned was risk.
When I write, when I create art, I do give away a piece of myself. I can’t not. But it’s always for a reason.
I believe the words you write on a page, even the book you publish that sits on a shelf, physical or digital, waiting to be purchased, is only half done. The other half of the great work is done by someone else, the reader. I think perhaps that theirs may be the greater half.
Imagine it’s the difference between talking to yourself and telling a story to kids around a campfire. It’s the difference between leaving a painting in a drawer or putting it on the wall of a gallery. It’s the difference between leaving your manuscript in a drawer where no one can ever see, and getting it published.
Art, and therefore writing, is about having a conversation. A dialogue has to happen. It is the difference between craft and art. It is a gift that must be received. And once it is then I believe both, giver and receiver, are forever joined and changed.
The amazing thing about all of this, about art, is that what you have to say may not even be up to you. You may never even know. But I promise you, you do have something to say. It’s what makes you an artist. It’s why you were given a voice unlike anybody else, for someone out there who is waiting to listen to you.
Check out Tom’s work at the following links:
If you enjoyed this post get in touch and leave a comment, alternatively if you would like to write a guest blog post please contact me via Facebook and Twitter . Also, sign up to the newsletter to get the latest sales, news and updates.