AG: Artists and Writers
MANY YEARS AGO, a Bible teacher demonstrated a way to make Scripture passages more personal. He suggested inserting one’s name into the passage. For example, John 3:16-17…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
“For God so loved Al Gansky, that he gave his only begotten Son, that if Al believeth in him Al should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn Al; but that Al through him might be saved.”
You get the idea. Over the years, I have found this technique humbling. It removes the truth from the academic realm and tattoos it on my mind and heart. I have done this so often that I occasionally do the exercise without thinking and with writings other than the Bible.
When a came across a list of quotes from famous artists about painting I instinctively redacted the passages so they related to writing. Here, let me show you:
Edgar Degas: “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”
Edgar Degas after verbal surgery: “Writing is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”
That struck home. Counting books yet to be released, I’ve written something like 30 titles, fiction and nonfiction. In some ways, it is easier; in many ways it has become more difficult. In my first novels, I didn’t give much thought to adverbs, exclamation points, passive use of “was,” and compounding prepositions. (Man, those were the days.) Now I do. Maybe I think about it too much. Nonetheless, the more I know, the more difficult the craft becomes.
Want another one? Okay, here goes.
Georgia O’Keefe: “I don’t very much enjoy looking at paintings in general. I know too much about them. I take them apart.”
Georgia O’Keefe after a compositional massage: “I don’t very much enjoy reading in general. I know too much about books. I take them apart.”
For years, I have warned budding writers to weigh carefully their decision to enter the craft. Becoming a writer often poisons the reader within. Sad but true. Most writers mentally edit as they read. They deconstruct, reverse engineer, challenge plot directions, shoot holes in character development, and generally destroy any pleasure in the once glorious indulgence called reading. Of the books, I’ve read recently, there are only two or so that were so well written they slapped my mental editor into submission. And it’s not other writers. There’s a reason I don’t read my books after they come out.
Okay, okay, another example.
Edmond de Goncourt: “A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world.”
The adjusted de Goncourt: “A book in the hands of a reviewer…” Um, never mind.
One last one.
Georges Rouault: “My only objective is to paint a Christ so moving that those who see him will be converted.”
Georges Rouault after Al: “My only objective should be to write a Christ so moving that those who see him will be converted.”
I can’t improve upon that.
Well, there ‘tis.
Al Gansky writes from California. Look him up at http://www.altongansky.com .