Home > Uncategorized > Is the Artist Her Art?

Is the Artist Her Art?

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I happened to catch a comment on a blog today where someone wrote that, for them, there really isn’t a difference between the author and his or her work and it got me wondering.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini, but I feel like I have two selves: the one that does the grocery shopping and volunteers at my kids’ school, and has dinner with friends, and reads gossip on the Internet like everyone else and the me that writes my books. The idea of anyone confusing or conflating them is frankly horrifying to me.

Let me put it this way, it’s awkward when you’re out in your sweatpants at the post office and an acquaintance rushes you and starts talking about your book. In those moments, I must bear the same expression my son does when he sees one of his nursery school teachers in a real-life context like the gas station. It’s not right. Worlds are colliding.

What to do? I make nice noises, turn weird colors, and back away if I can, not because I don’t appreciate the attention but because the part of me that writes is a wormy delicate thing, pale and skinless, not meant for broad daylight and sudden movements.

I bet many fiction writers would agree. The myth of the grand artiste is dangerous, I think. It’s pompous, for one thing, and leads to nothing good. A famous writer I know said something in a talk once that stuck with me. He said there are two kinds of writers: the writer at the bar and the writer who sits and home and just gets on with it (I’m paraphrasing, obviously). That seems right to me. I don’t want to be the writer hanging out at the bar, making a spectacle of my own life. For one thing, I’m not that interesting. And for another, great fiction shouldn’t be about yourself. It should start with you, of course, but if it ends there, well, what’s the point? Why not just carry a mirror around?

Next time you see your friendly neighborhood writer, smile, wave, maybe ask about the weather. And leave it at that. Don’t make any sudden movements.

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