Life As Art

As writers, we use our fucked up view of the world and how it’s done us wrong experiences to influence, shape, and inspire what we write.  This can be everything from choosing a specific genre (i.e. Dreamers tend to write fantasy and science fiction because they are magical and mystical worlds; whereas Realists write more real world stories; Pessimists tend to write more in your face items, like transgressive fiction and the such; and Idealists Hopeless Romantics love their romance categories), to importing their own lives into the stories, using real events that have taken place almost verbatim to further the story along.  But the question is: Is Life Art?

Admittedly, I’ve always been a “Dreamer” mixed with a splash of “Idealist/Hopeless Romantic”.  I’ve preferred to write fantasy and science fiction, even dabbled in the occasional romance novel/short story, over the years, finding comfort and solace in whimsical and fantastic.  But, lately, I’ve noticed a fundamental shift in my writing.  With my publication A Touch of Darkness, I found myself wandering away from the comfort of third person, objective writing, and into the world of first person, ‘Gee, she’s ME!’ writing.  Granted, this story, while the main character is based on how I think and react in situations, is still very whimsical – I mean, the girl fucks up royally and still manages to get the handsome neighbor, after all – but it was my first shift toward a more realistic approach to my writing.  Since then I’ve segued into using my real life situations (names changed to protect the innocent, embarrassed, or plain idiotic) in the stories I write.  So I’m beginning to wonder if a shift in my “real life” has began influencing my art to the point of mimicry (well, mostly)?  I mean, what is so truly fantastic about my outlook on life now that has made me view the woman standing at the deli counter as a single mom, tired from a long shift, hoping to pick up a quick fried chicken dinner instead of viewing her as I used to – a secret superhero who, while inordinately busy, still finds time to sweep in for a quick fried chicken nibble between dashing dastardly villains?

Well…hmmm…I suppose many things.  While I’m sure I’ll always maintain a “romanticized” view of people, (I’ll admit, I like to think the very best of people in most situations despite the shit things I’ve been shown in my life), my outlook has shifted because I’ve found a new appreciation in the “small” heroics of everyday life that I didn’t have in the past.  Before I needed there to be extraordinary displays of heroics, wanted there to be such a thing as magic.  I was reluctant fantastically repelled by the notion that everyday actions could equal heroism on any level, that kindnesses and simple actions, while great, were somehow “less” important than wizards and dragons or alien fleets and genetic mutations.  And all this despite having been shown a lifetime of silent strength, wisdom, kindness and generosity.  So why was I immune to this notion?

As I’ve come to believe, I’d grown numb to the notion of normal heroics.  What I needed was grandoise, larger than life spectaculars to impress me, to draw me out of the depths of my apathy and bathe me in simple radiance.  (Sometimes I’m so fucking poetical I just love it! haha)  I’d been inundated with silent magic, for lack of a better word, for decades of life so that the mundane had become…well, mundane.  So I’d immersed myself in the bigger, brighter and flashier more, more more! world of literature, hanging on every spell, mythical creature, surreal episode, to give me the adrenaline rush I was craving.  But what goes up must surely come down, right?  We all know that simple law of physics.

Life crashed in on me, sunk me to a depth I had never experienced before.  And, while this depth would be considered a shallow end of the pool by many, it, nonetheless, opened my eyes to the world, the really real world, around me.  It made me see the beautiful, not the commanlity, of the single person trying so hard to right their life even though they keep fucking it up again; it made me see the simplistic magic of the bedraggled drunk at the end of the bar, cigarette dangling from parched lips, as she took another sip off the liquor in her glass at 8:30 in the morning.  Life made me see life.  And, in that life, I began to see art.

They tell writers to “write what they know.”  For the longest time, I misunderstood this statement so grossly that I wonder how I ever called myself a writer.  My interpretation of this line was “write what you read or have read and have seen the formula for over and over again.”  Then life smacked me like a pimp and I was his ho, delivering the true meaning of the phrase.  “Write what you know” isn’t restricted to mimicry, while that may be a high form of flattery.  “Write what you know” literally translates to “write what you know – what you experience, see, feel, touch and taste: write what, where, when, who, and how you are immersed in everything around you: take the character of people to make the characters you write real.”  Essentially, make life into art because, let’s face it, it already is.