The Artist Is Always Wrong

I was talking with a friend of mine, a very artsy, creative wordsmith/photographer, and she told me something that may just be profound: the artist is always wrong.

I'm gonna be honest here: I don't like this draft I just finished. Every error just glares at me as if I'd highlighted it in red and then made it flash. It blares out unfinished plotlines, cheesy dialogue, and a whole basket-load of cliche-ness. I don't see much good about it at all, and I want to shelve the whole thing before an agent ever sees it. (I'll reject it myself, thank you.)

But here's something else: I've never finished a piece of writing I was happy with, barring that one time in English. If you ask me, all my writings were improvements from their predecessors, but they were also all crap. I'm my own worst critic, and I keep striving and striving for perfection that I am not even close to attaining.

My friend thought that the artist was always wrong, as a general rule. If they think it's great, it sucks. If they can't stand the sight of it, it's actually good.

I don't know what to think. I'm being open here, not being falsely modest. I'm not impressed with my writing. I know it's a big deal that I've finished a novel - finished three stinkin' drafts of a novel - but I'm not impressed. And it hurts, hurts that I spent so much time on it and still can't make myself happy.

Am I too biased to give my book a chance to a fair opinion? I naturally lean towards the negative; is my phlegmatic personality coloring my view? (*hinthint beta reader*) :)

Or am I right? Should I cry tears of failure because I'm actually right, shelve my book, and...I don't know... cry some more?

There's two schools of thought on this, both of them good ones, both of them battling it out in my head. Form your own opinion if you haven't already, and then let me know what you think.

"When a writer tells you that her work-in-progress is awful...she's probably just telling the truth," says Graceling author Kristin Cashore.

"When you rewrite your ms seven times and revise it thirty-two more times and there’s still that one pivotal sentence that just will. not. sound. right no matter what you do because you are such a terrible writer and...this is when you need to take a step back and cut yourself some slack," agented writer Kaitlin Ward reminds us.

You have an opinion, I know it. Is the artist always wrong? Sometimes wrong? Never wrong? Tell me.

1 comment:

Elana Johnson said...

I'm not sure. I do know that I'm never SATISFIED with my work. That's different than being wrong, I think. And I think if I do become too satisfied with my work, then I cease to strive to do better.