Thursday, August 12, 2010

Personal Hell

Tell me how the Frack I am supposed to answer this to make an " artist's statement"?
My gut reaction, first round answers will not be appropriate:

QUESTIONS TO ASK: Writing an Artist’s Statement

Consider the following questions when writing about your own work, whether for self-reflection or for someone else.

1. Will you take another writing class?

  • Not unless one of my children is being threatened.
  • And even then, when the kids are safe, the people who forced me to take the class better watch their backs.

2. Have your goals as a writer changed?

  • No, I still want to be a better writer purely for the sake of craft and not go anywhere near publication.
  • This goal is apparently not supported in any writing class.

3. What’s the most important thing you have learned?

4. What do you wish you had learned that you didn’t?

  • Anything remotely like creative writing.

5. What do you want to say about your work?

  • I'm sorry.

6. What would you write if you had the time and talent to write anything?

  • A heartbreaking work of staggering genius - or something happy that an audience of three will appreciate and start a small cult based around it.
  • Oooh - or an action/buddy film that starred Angelina Jolie and Sophia Loren kicking everyone's ass. I'd need to be a time traveller as well as a talented writer with unlimited time - but hey - I'd have unlimited time to work out little technical details like that.

7. What have you learned about your writing habits?

  • I do not work and play well with online creative writing courses.
  • I can indeed write from a place of anger, solely to reach the goal of pleasing a mediocre critic who only likes things that are less than 2000 words, and favors powerpoint presentations as opposed to instructional feedback.

8. Do you see yourself as part of a writing community? Do you prefer to work in isolation, focusing on the work, and reading?

  • Not unless the writing community has the crazy lady that lives in the house on the hill and tells other writers to get off her lawn. In that case, I am a member of that community, and I am on that lawn brandishing a chainsaw and calling "Here, kitty, kitty . . . ."

9. What’s the most important thing you learned about getting and giving feedback about work in progress?

  • People have very, very low reading comprehension. This low level of reading comprehension is exacerbated by last millennia's GUI formats and a horrible bulletin board structure leaving me unsure whether to rant at the software developers or the readers, thus encouraging my silence.
  • Oh! and that the instructor will not correct a classmate when they have obviously not read the same story we are commenting on, even when said classmate thinks the guy being kidnapped in the shower is committing suicide instead. . .

10. What techniques, authors, or exercises have been most useful to you?

  • Since we were exposed to almost no techniques or authors, and the exercises were all castrated into pseudo "work-for-hire" things slanted towards generating hack pieces, I would say that the most useful exercise was my exposure to flash fiction. That exercise has now created a deep seated hatred for the form that can only be compared to my core hatred of vampire fiction.

11. What insights have you gained into the practice and art of creative writing?

  • See 10.
  • Oh and rage. I've gotten a lot of insight into irrational rage.

12. Has your voice changed? Is your writing truer, deeper, better?

  • Are you suggesting I go through puberty or a sex change and start writing porn?
  • Would you be forcing me to write this porn from a memoir perspective while playing Daft Punk or Kanye?
  • I've always suspected that about you. . . .

13. What authors do you want to read now (has that changed)? Do you have writer role models?

  • I am desperate to get back to clear writing and entertaining fiction. I shall cleanse my palate with some nice Andrew M. Greeley, reread some Heinlein and Gaiman, and studiously avoid anything that won a Pulitzer or was lauded by the New Yorker circa 1978. I will immerse myself in some Karen Armstrong thought experiments and some David McCoullough, just because he's awesome.
  • My writer role model is Esther M. Friesner who was also my photographer once when I was covering Toy Fair. When I hit my second childhood I want to be just like her.

14. What’s your best piece from the semester?

Ok - so this isn't going to help me write a "extended piece of non-fiction where the writer explores process, inspiration, and artistic progress." which is supposedly the goal of an "Artist's Statement".

The thing I really learned is that this class is not the way for me to break through to my former creativity - however it's doing wonders for my extended studies in curmudgeonliness.

Please - if anyone out there knows the value or has successfully written an Artist's Statement - please, please share- I'm dyin' here . . . . .


Kelly said...


So, let me clarify, you are supposed to answer those questions and then write another piece that basically rolls your answers and point of view into something called an "artist's statement"?

If I were you, I would look at not what you learned from the class or your classmates or your instructor (which seems to be nothing, anyway) and look at what you discovered about your writing.

So, you're a curmudgeon, roll with it.

Don't apologize about your work, either. Its good. I've read it. I've read the stuff you write here, too.

You talk about what you would write if you had the time and talent....would it be a novel? a play? a series of poems? love letters to the dead? specifics...

I don't know, sad to say, you are probably going to have to step back from your hatred of the class and just look at writing in general to get a good statement going.

Kelly said...

now that I think of it, though, I think I wrote one of these. let me look and see if I can find it.

Kelly said...

Here I am, again.

I didn't have to do something as elaborate as that, but I did have to write a short paragraph in which I (obviously) bs'd my way through it.

That is one of the difficulties, when you have to dumb it down for the professor. I guess I'm just good at telling people what they want to hear.

Here it paragraph.

Through the semester I have enjoyed many parts, but I feel that I did especially well when there was more structure to the assignments. For instance, I loved the poetry unit, but my favorite poem to work on was assignment eight. This assignment was our figurative and form poem. While it definitely took me the longest of all my poems to complete, the work that went into the poem was a positive challenge. I also have an affinity for using imagery, but I have not quite mastered the task of ‘showing’ as thoroughly as I would like. The writing that I find most interesting is anything that forces me to step outside of my creative boundaries and try something new.

Drinne said...

I think I've actually done one or two versions of this - I wrote an introductory essay when we launched the magazine about what the philosophy of the magazine and my inspiration for it.

And I think that the Anti-Snowball or other areas of Lisa's forums might have touched on some of this stuff, however I have to basically state right out that I didn't change or grow or learn anything new except Flash Fiction. I wouldn't go so far as to say the class was remedial - it felt more like warm up for physical rehab before you start doing the real work.

Thanks for the paragraph - all I care about now is the grade and avoiding ever meeting this professor in real life. I have to write a full page. Maybe I can find someplace halfway between what you did and an anti-snowball thing.

unelaborated said...

I thought your answers were fantastic. They showed plenty of creativity and were honest as well.

My only comment is that you used bullet points and then went and slammed bullet points. You came off a little bit hypocritical there.

On the other hand, your teacher sounded like he/she/it was rather incompetent. I doubt he/she/it gives half of a rat's ass about what you think.