Forum Questions on Art or Business

Activity taken from a Wattpad forum thread… I just ranted LOL and it got too long to post.. This is another instance of “mindbleed”.

The Art Writer

The starving artist comes to mind. The type of writer who writes for passion, despite whether or not the final product is mass marketable or not. The quintessential writer-as-artist does not think in terms of money to begin with; he writes both for himself and to share his gifts with others.

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The Hobbyist

The Hobbyist may have no less passion than the Art Writer, but what he lacks is a desire to pursue writing as a career. Writing to him is an interest, not a vocation. His “calling” lies elsewhere. The Hobbyist writes for himself, primarily. If he “fails” in his writing venture, he doesn’t fall very far.

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The Salesman

Now we look at the idea of writer as businessman. He favors craft over art. Story over prose. The writer as businessman’s M.O. is to produce highly marketable products to appeal to large numbers of readers. He relies heavily on formula. He is more likely to “sell direct”. He is savvy and knows exactly what his audience wants, and is more than wiiling to give it to them.

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The Art Writer may resent The Salesman for his tactical approach and/or be jealous of him for being able to achieve a level of “success” that he (The Art Writer) can only ever dream of.

The Salesman may dismiss The Art Writer as someone who “doesn’t know how to play the game”.

The Hobbyist may ignore both The Art Writer and The Salesman, seeing them as taking themselves way too seriously (“It’s only writing!”).

The Art Writer and The Salesman may disregard The Hobbyist as little more than a maker of clutter.

1. Do these categories and generalizations really exist? Why? Is it all just a matter of motivation?

I think these exist, but not as rigid categories, people will fluctuate, it’s more like a spectrum and a process, you can shift from one position to another, depending on where you are in your career or passions. I myself am a Art Writer. I believe in delivering the best literature possible, and not following trends for popularity sake. I believe there’s already too much pop culture and pop fiction, and cookie cutter writing going on and we need a return to the classics and modern landmarks of the literary world. We need to encourage readers and young people to think deeply, return to the arts and philosophies behind literature and not just consume something for pure story or emotion. Saying all that of course I am writing for what I believe in, however from my experience I’ve had collected many readers over the years who also enjoy having their minds expanded or believe in the same things I do. I always say this, in this world now it is so saturated with the arts, like even if you just look at the amount of people playing music on youtube, or the fusions and mixes of genres of music, all kinds of books and artistic work… like abstract impressionism movements in visual arts, or even things like White on White canvas… there’s so much out there and there’s bound to be an audience and people who will connect with you in some way. However, I am also a businessman in a way and have been learning much about marketing. I am still no good at it but through the years of experience online, I’ve learned even if you have a niche way of writing, (which I had, which became a tight-knit movement of thousands of young people), or content that’s not following trends, you can market it in such a way that it does reach a lot of people and will build momentum. There are people out there who WILL like what you do and the quality you’ve put into it.

My personal position is that I will not compromise my art, but I will also market it so that it tries to make up for not riding the trends. And eventually I hope that it will gain enough momentum to compare to those trends, even though I don’t think it’s possible. My favourite author, Haruki Murakami, is a Japanese writer. His work is very abstract at times, artistic, magical-realistic, literary, all sorts of interesting complex layers going on and his style is absolutely genius. And he wrote in Japanese, yet he has made international acclaim and many people will know his name if they are into literature. In his example, he’s made it across the world yet doesn’t write something very trendy. It’s not going to be as crazy as The Fault in the Stars or something else mainstream, but I think it’s possible to forge out success and influence with good quality work. People will still recognize it I think. In that sense, there are blurred lines and room for maneuvering, so other than the spectrum, the world has many routes to forge

2. In a community like Wattpad, do you recognize the motivations behind fellow writers’ work? Do those motivations ever influence your opinions on either the integrity of the writing or the integrity of the writer?

Personally, I do tend to stay away from any of the trendy works, because I don’t like following trends or “mainstream” work. It’s stereotype of course, for example, fanfictions not being of very good quality. (I’m actually planning to write popular genre fiction and put my own literary philosophical spin on it) But I mean as I matured and grew older, my tastes in reading has changed and I’m purely into literature and literary fiction, whatever can get me thinking deeply about the world and life, and whatever has that powerful visionary, calm narrative voice that really sucks me in. There are only select works that do that, I think I’ve had the honour of coming across some really powerful literary writers on Wattpad whom I’ve put into my reading lists. Other than that, I also see some category writers who just write what’s trendy to pick up on popularity. Yes, this repels me because I’m simply not interested in that content. The trendy stuff doesn’t engage my mind on a deeper complex level. Personally, I might begin with a conclusion that they must not be being true to art or themselves, however, I try to keep that reigned in because like I said there’s all forms of art, I’m not one to say it’s not art. “Art is whatever you can get away with.” As well, perhaps the writer is being true to themselves. I know when I was twelve I first started writing lengthy fiction through fanfiction. There’s people who may be growing as writers or they simply enjoy these genres or trends. But, I think there is an issue if the writer is following the trend to please writers just to gain popularity and success. This is taking our art as purely a job and a business. I think writing is creative work, it’s different from a regular nine to five job or a marketing campaign. It requires putting something special from the soul into it. It has personal connections to people and to the writer. And in fact, the pinnacle of humanity lies in this – creativity. What makes us different from animals is that we aren’t directed or shouldn’t be directed by primal instinct and pure emotion, we have the faculty of the mind and most importantly, we aren’t unfeeling robots either, we have creativity and imagination. Put a stranded couple on an island with no prior knowledge of civilization, they will still start to imagine things they can do, build shelters, build tools to aid their life, make a family etc. This is created through a process of understanding the relation between the self and the world, envisioning something that doesn’t exist yet, imagining and visualizing it, and then making it. This is the magic of a human being. Making things out of nothing, is what we do. All that said, if someone purely treats their writing as a business and does whatever is written down for them by trends or popular culture, then it’s not really using our potential as human beings. If they enjoy the trends and love creating such content, I think that is fine. It’s about motivation indeed. I also know I won’t be the judge of it because that is something within. I stay away from certain work just because I personally do not enjoy it and I would probably be avoiding the pure business type of people too in the process.

3. How important is it to give the reader what he wants?

I love to hear feedback from readers and I love hearing their thoughts. I believe art is a communication process and there are multiple approaches and sides of the coin. In fact the entire world is made up of perceptions of people, there is no true real world. What I see is different from what someone else sees. Even if it’s something simple like colour, each eye may view things slightly different, just like each computer monitor displays colours slightly differently. Colours also just simply don’t exist as it’s about reflecting the other colours and leaving one behind and such. When we see people, we only see their first impression, their appearance, their personality, their behaviour and actions but will never truly know them inside out. Neither do we know ourselves inside out, we are in a constant flux and on a journey of self-discovery. Therefore, in the same way when we look at art, there are multiple viewpoints and perceptions and all are valuable. When readers respond to certain thoughts in my work, especially when it treads into deep philosophical content, it delights me so much and I can engage with them in a conversation. Other times, I often discuss the story with trusted readers or fellow writers and they give their shrewd critical opinions that just helps so much. It helps me see what I’m writing and where I should move on. Often as a writer, it comes from the subconscious just as much as it comes from conscious planning, as Hemingway said, let it bleed. In these examples, these readers that I experience ARE engaged, and are getting what they want. Once again, I think there are audiences for almost everything out there, there will be people who connect with the work. Rather than a transaction of us being a producer and giving products to them, or fitting their needs, I think it’s a collaborative process. Their feedback and thoughts is something we take into consideration and they also take what we want to express into consideration, and then it becomes a two-way conversation. I value all sides of it, and different perceptions.

To summarize, for me personally, it’s not the black and white of business (writing as a means to an end) or writing as self-expression. I write to communicate, not as self-expression but to communicate from me to the world and to people, and to hear the response as well. Which puts me int he Art Writer category. Where I will not compromise my content, which I seek to challenge people and provoke people to think deeply, but I will also do as much as possible to make it reach the largest amount of audience possible, and hopefully inspire people or at least communicate the message I feel I need to communicate.

For me writing or the arts is not about self-expression or pleasing the crowd, it is communication, heart to heart, soul to soul, intellect to intellect. It requires both audience and personal conviction. The audience aspect of it is the money generating thing and will require marketing ability and so on. I think there are routes you can forge out and there are always audiences to reach

What do you see as being the difference between expressive writing and communicative writing?

I believe once again that this is also a spectrum rather than a black and white but purely expressive writing or any art for that matter has the creator as the main focus, the purpose is to put onto the medium your inner world, emotions, thoughts, etc. like a cathartic release and personal satisfaction. However communicative arts or writing is, in my opinion, the main purpose of art because it has been throughout history and ultimately is the main communicative tool of the entire world and society ie. even advertisement, graphic design, informational text, technical writing, music and it’s lyrics. Humans are social creatures and interact from self with the world around. That said, communicative writing has the end viewer in mind. While it’s not that fundamentally different since the creator needs a message or conviction to send out, which in the creative arts (not client jobs) it is an inner message. Still it is purposeful from point A to B, self to the world, my heart to your heart, etc. it has a purpose to persuade someone or at least give them new thoughts or insight about what the creator sees personally. I think this is the ultimate goal of the arts and also how we learn. When we read something or see something we are receiving information from it and learning about how someone else perceives, and most of the time they did intend a message or many messages or messages they don’t even know that exists within their own work. Nevertheless the difference lies in the motive behind the creation of it. When I coach students on creative writing, I often encourage them to find their fundamental beliefs and values, if they were to die for example what would be one last thing they would say to someone else or to say to the world, what are their views on the state of the world or life or people around them presently etc. I think that focuses the art and gives it much power and energy when you realize what we’re doing has so much potential and means so much more than entertainment. Everything has a message once it’s perceived by another human being, consciously or subconsciously, subliminally or explicitly.


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