By Ginny Padgett
Recently I saw a docu-drama based on the life of Georgia O’Keefe. Her Svengali cum husband, Alfred Stieglitz, delivered a line that stopped the action for me, complete with bells and red flags. He said, “It’s not art until someone rich pays a lot of money for it.” Of course this line was said tongue in cheek, but it started me thinking.
My thoughts went to writing and publishing. Is the same true with the literary arts? I was still mulling over this question when a week or so later at our workshop there was a discussion about this very subject.
The conversation went like this. Some modern writers have become millionaires from their book sales, but some of these books are like potato chips…not good for you but you can’t put them down. On the other hand Mayo mentioned he was reading Lolita. Although he found the subject matter distasteful, he relished the beauty of the written word and envied Nabokov’s mastery.
Of course, art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. But after giving this is-it-art question some thought and listening to others, here’s where I stand.
I believe art happens when one has an idea that is meaningful to him and strives to convey the impact of that thought or feeling through his chosen medium. I also believe that when one creates art, our collective consciousness is enhanced, elevated, edified. Furthermore, when one practices his art in community with others, like we do at workshop, I believe we inspire each other, and our experience is greater than the sum of our parts. Because of this experience, we don’t need a multi-million dollar contract or even to be published in a small literary magazine to consider what we do as art.
I think this a high calling to which we have responded. We ply our art without an eye to a generous benefactor. We write because we love it; we have a point to make; we have something we want to get off our chests. For whatever reason, we use words as painters use colors on canvases. Perhaps there is no better art than the pursuit of it. So write on, comrades in ink. Let’s make some art!