Beyond the lines of printed words in my books are the settings in which the books were imagined and without which the books could not exist.
–Joyce Carol Oates, “To Invigorate Literary Mind, Start Moving Literary Feet“
I’ve lately been enjoying a pretty terrific variety of articles on writing and writers, and rather than spotlight only one or simply recap already well-written works, I’ll give them to you here as a list. Keep things short n’ sweet. These are in no particular order and all of them I’d recommend as good reading for artists and consumers of art alike.
Davis does a tremendous job here of outlining thirty cliches rampant within the art-writing community–a list that’s not only useful for art-writers and critics, but that’s also illuminating for artists and consumers of art looking to learn more about the art and art critic’s worlds (not to mention about the power and artistry of the work of art-writing specifically and of nonfiction writing generally).
If you’re at all interested in feminist punk, feminist writing, punk music memoirs, or punk music/music history, then you’re going to definitely enjoy Viv Albertine’s (guitarist for The Slits) latest memoir, Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys, all about her journey to becoming a Slit, and Caroline Sullivan’s interview of both Albertine and producer Dennis Bovell regarding the origins of The Slits’ legendary Cut album.
We were all virgins when it came to composing and writing, but we liked the ideology of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood: always questioning things. That fed into our music. We knew we were a first, which could be uncomfortable, and we were much more revolutionary than the Pistols and the Clash. They were rock bands, whereas we were using world music and reggae, filtered through our own musicality.
—Albertine, interview with Sullivan
This is just like it sounds–hot writing advice from the giant herself, Joyce Carol Oates, circa 1999.
To write is to invade another’s space, if only to memorialize it. To write is to invite angry censure from those who don’t write, or who don’t write in quite the way you do, for whom you may seem a threat. Art by its nature is a transgressive act, and artists must accept being punished for it. The more original and unsettling their art, the more devastating the punishment.
A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals.
Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled “Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations.” Rather, it’s a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose a pair of scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the comic sans-loving Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology.
Again, just what it sounds like. Uncle Kurt, circa 1999.
I paraphrase Aristotle: If you want to be comical, write about people to whom the audience can feel superior; if you want to be tragical, write about at least one person to whom the audience is bound to feel inferior, and no fair having human problems solved by dumb luck or heavenly intervention.
The mind boggles – or it would if authors didn’t spend a good majority of their time assiduously, and at tedious length, trying to avoid cliches. The fact that people fantasise about being an author only proves how little they know about the reality of the job – or how under-read they are in one of the greatest of that profession, George Orwell.
It was Orwell who wrote this description of the novelist: “All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon which one can neither resist nor understand.”
And just for fun…