Friday, April 11, 2014

Art and Literature

I've written about the chasm that seems to divide commercial and literary fiction before.* It became especially relevant early last semester as I began to be more confident about telling people that I was a writer and that I write YA Fantasy. I had several rather unpleasant encounters with professors and other students where they seemed to think less of me once they learned the silly thing I did with my free time and hoped to do with the rest of my life.

While I know a lot of you will want to say something along the lines of "you shouldn't care what they think, just follow your writing heart,"** I do care what they think, and I really can't help myself. More accurately, I really just care about what a few of my professor think. Most of the rest of them I can shrug off. And all but a choice few of the students have pretty much lost their ability to make an impact.

But even when their disapproval has zero impact on my life plan, I still notice them disapproving of me. I also still manage to get into snits with people it would definitely be wiser not to argue with over this issue,*** and people who think reading shouldn't be 'fun' still make me worry about the state of the world.

So, of course I was interested when one of my art professors started talking about a similar theoretical division that currently exists in the art world.

Apparently, Post-Modernism that focuses solely on the artist's feelings about The Lack of Meaning in the World is currently in vogue and those who would like to focus on drawing as the foundation of art and follow in the footsteps of the Italian masters are left out in the cold. This is how we get big canvases of blankness with a single blob of chewed bubble gum stuck in the middle hung in art museums. 

As it is hard for writers of fantasy and commercial fiction of all sorts to get into writing workshops and MFA programs, so also do the Realists struggle.

I find this an intriguing parallel.

Completely unrelatedly, I found these on Etsy. Aren't they fab?

A picture of a pair of tights with a map of Middle Earth printed on them.
Don't you wish you had Middle Earth on your pants?


* If you haven't heard about the foolish thing our school library has done with the YA Fiction, then you need to click here.

** And I thank you for that. No doubt it's true. Perhaps I'll reach that level of confidence in myself and my craft at some blessed future date.

*** I usually walk away from these congratulating myself on not smacking my opponent for his or her pretentiousness.


  1. I faced this in high school, college, and now in adult life. Sometimes people don't understand that genre writing is just as exciting for some of us as literary work is to them. Just remember, your fans will love your stories, that's what matters.

  2. I'll take the side of the divide that comes with Middle Earth leggings, please 'n' thank you.

    1. heehee they are sort of hard to argue with, aren't they? :D

  3. I've been lucky in that no one I know has judged me for writing YA; the people I've mentioned it to (friends and coworkers, mostly, but occasionally acquaintances) think it's cool that I write books, period. And the people who've asked "why YA?" have been merely curious, not condescending. I think it helps that I didn't major in any sort of English, though :)

    I'm not normally into leggings, but I would wear the crap out of those Middle-earth ones.

  4. Intriguing parallel, indeed. All the more because realism (of course you could argue about this, but especially when we're talking about fantasy)--because realism falls on one side in writing, and on the other in drawing.

    But yeah, the idea that art is lessened somehow by being entertaining or delightful or BEAUTIFUL... I disagree so strongly.

    1. As have millennia of people before, by the way... *shakes head*

  5. I WILL KILL FOR THOSE PANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol