In the middle of the 20th Century “Art” because professionalized, to the point where we felt we didn’t deserve to tell stories unless a New York publishing house was slapping it between hardcovers, or an overpriced university program anointed us “Writer, MFA”.
This was an aberration; a moment in history that did not exist before and does not exist now.
Humans have always sat around and told each other stories, without the benefit of editors or tutors or anyone giving us permission. We told stories to audiences, and we gauged their reaction in order to make our stories better next time.
The success of the “amateurs doing things on TV” genre (American Idol, The Voice, Dancing With The Stars) along with the boom in indie publishing, indie movie making, indie everything making, are signs that the artificial workshop of creative professionals is over. Humans are taking back control of our own creativity.
Tell your stories. Show them to people. Make them better. Write new stories. That’s all there is to it.
You have every right to write. In fact, print out this certificate and write your name on it.
Writing means a lot to you. You’ve been doing it every day for weeks now. You’ve made it a priority. How does that feel?
There are probably other art forms that move you just as much (Music? Art? Dance?). What would you do and who would you be if you were forced to live a life without art?
Write a story about the impact of art
You may imagine a world where art is forbidden (all art or just the particular type your character wants to commit).
You can imagine an artist who is blocked for another reason.
What does the lack of art do to that person?
Has he/she known what it was to be an artist and lost it?
Has he/she never known and are they living a life they thought was OK. How do they discover the missing piece? What impact does that have on the rest of their life?
Perhaps your story will be about an art teacher impacting the life of an impressionable kid.
Your story need not be a narrative story. Perhaps it is a chilling set of rules to be imposed by an oppressive authority. Perhaps it is a list of titles of work in an art show or exhibition or that have been found in an archaeological dig.
You might write about the conversation between an ancient artist and the modern day observer.
What does art mean to you? Put that into your story.
These art works, it is thought, were ‘lost’ during WWII (i.e. looted, forced sales, etc.). 70 years on, many of these works must surely have been forgotten about entirely. For certain, many have never been seen by art historians. But there have been people who have pursued this type of art down through the decades since the war ended.
Which got me thinking. There have been many people who mourned, pursued and talked about this art down through the decades since the war ended. As time passed, they may have gone from sounding like crusaders to sounding like cranks. How must they have felt yesterday, when this hoard was revealed?
Write a story that features an obsessed character who is suddenly, unexpectedly vindicated.
The story can share the moment at which the vindication happens or it can happen afterwards (or perhaps even slightly before. Wouldn’t it be fun to let the reader see the vindication coming, but leave the story just before it does?)
Character is all in this story. It doesn’t really matter WHAT your character is obsessed with/paranoid about. The interesting parts happen in their interactions with the doubters and believers around them.
What would it do to a family, or a relationship, to have one member who was obsessed with an increasingly-outlandish idea through the years?
If you’re struggling for a topic, don’t forget the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination is coming up on Nov 23…
If a picture says a thousand words that should save us some time, right?
Write A Story Inspired By A Picture
This could be a piece of art that you love, or you can go to the ‘Explore’ page of Flickr.com and start poking about until you find a picture that speaks to you. (Do this quickly. Allow yourself no more than five minutes to find a picture. Choose the first one that stands out to you).
Write a story connected to that picture. Keep the picture in mind as you go through your story. Always bring it back to the impulse that made you choose the image.
If you can, provide a link to the picture that inspired your story (even if you’re not posting your stories online I’d love to see what images and ideas people get from this).