Helping Authors Become Artists by K.M. Weiland - Usa
Mis à jour : 30 août 2019
In view of this site’s title, it’s not surprising people often ask, “What’s the difference between a writer and an author?”
Usually, I admit it’s a cheeky sophistry, since there is no true distinction, save for the common connotation that an “author” is somehow more professional. A writer is just someone who scribbles; an author is someone who has arrived, probably by having been published. At any rate, the title has always indicated my intention that this site should encourage growth among writers—myself first and foremost.
Unintentionally, this blog has become the chronicle of my life. I don’t often write about my life, but as I look back through the archives of the last eleven years, I can chart not only my personal growth, as both writer and woman, but also the arc of my interest in the art and craft of writing.
The super-early posts were the ones about being a “writer.” When I wrote them, I was just grubbing it out, still learning how to put one word in front of the other. I was interested in mastering things like “show vs. tell” and basic ideas about the nature of subconscious creativity.
A few years later, I discovered story theory—story structure, scene structure, character arcs, theme—and my enthusiasm cranked into high gear. I consider the posts that emerged during these years to be about becoming an “author.” This was the period when I was embracing concepts and principles to which I would now point storytellers for help in taking that symbolic step from mere “writer” to seasoned “author.”
But… what comes after that?
After you’ve made the jump from writer to author, what’s left?
I’ve been pondering this for a couple years now, both in my own journey as a writer, but perhaps even more urgently in regard to the blog itself. What can I write about that I haven’t written about before? (After 11 years and 1,300+ posts, it becomes a poignant question!)
Recently, I think I’ve discovered the answer.
Helping Writers Become Authors Become Artists
No, I’m not going to change the name of the site.
And, yes, this is a little bit more of that same sophistry. After all, if you’re a writer, you’re already an artist. (As an aside, I have always firmly believed the angst we sometimes feel about our right to the title of “writer” is misplaced. If you write, you are a writer. You don’t have to be a genius to be a writer. You don’t have to be published. You don’t even have to be any good yet. You write, therefore you are a writer. Same goes for being an artist.)
But as with the subtle distinction between “writer” and “author,” I believe the title “artist” connotes something a little bigger, a little grander, a little more dedicated, a little more responsible, and a little more accomplished.
As a reader and viewer, I desire art. I don’t want “just” stories—even ones told with proper form and decent style. I want art. I want transportation. I want to experience things I’ve never experienced before. I want characters who challenge me to rise and rise again. I want stories that are lovingly and consciously crafted by masters who understand the form, but who have ascended above mediocrity with absolute honesty about themselves and total respect to their audiences.
Even in our story-saturated culture, authors are few enough and artists are rare indeed.
What an Artist Is—and Is Not
1. An Artist Is… a Master Storyteller
In my little hierarchy, the artist stands on the shoulders of the author—a writer who has dedicated himself to the craft. Although I’m sure there are a few artists who were born instead of made, they are truly unusual. Artistic masters, in any medium, are those who have toiled. They have taken to heart Ernest Hemingway’s suggestion that:
We are all apprentices in a craft no one ever masters.
Being brilliant isn’t enough. Having a unique vision isn’t enough. A story burning upon your tongue like Isaiah’s coal isn’t enough. It isn’t enough even to string words together prettily or to properly construct a convincing story structure. So many people out there today can check all those boxes. And some of them are world-famous and rich-till-they-die. But they’re not all artists.
Artists are those who have gone beyond what is merely “proper” to a fully integrated understanding of how story lives and breathes throughout history and in every moment of our lives. In his classic The Art of Fiction, John Gardner writes:
What the young writer needs to develop, to achieve his goal of becoming a great artist, is not a set of aesthetic laws but artistic mastery. He cannot hope to develop mastery all at once; it involves too much. But if he pursues his goal in the proper way, he can approach it much more rapidly than he would if he went at it hit-or-miss.
If you want to read more, I give you on the website: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com
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