Days of Art 2017-07: Color Outside the Lines

Just a shout-out to those of you who find yourselves coloring outside of the lines. All of us have faced it at one time or another. Street photographers are quoted prescribed rules of conduct for their art, often by way of people (like Henri Cartier-Bresson) who were merely answering questions as to what they were doing, rather than trying to tell other artists what to do. Painters like Van Gogh labored in obscurity during their lives because they dared to blur the lines art critics had so carefully defined, only to be later heralded as genius innovators. We writers are constantly told which genres publishers do and do not accept when all we’re writing is a damned story.

Frequently, in my stories, I come across a situation where no word exists for what I mean. I used to spend minutes (to hours) rifling through online thesauri in search of precisely the correct phrase. It never worked. Then, on a whim, I picked up a novel by William Faulkner. While I detested the racism in his stories, I was awed by his tendency to simply make up words when none fit. I’ve been wordaventing ever since. Maybe my tendency to do so stands between me and easy success, but I’d rather fail at art than fail at being Bill. I speak my language now, and you’ll either dig it don’t.

If there is no school for what you do, open one. My alma mater is MSU (Making Shit Up) even though I graduated from Wisconsin. Whether you be up for it or down on (or with) it, we up either way.

Which genre is life? What is the prescription for good? I’d daresay no one knows, and those who claim to know are united only in their general lack of both talent and imagination. So, to all you fellow line-crossers, genre-benders, and house-hop rap-rockers, do you, because everyone else has already been done.

Oh, and in case you didn’t pick it up, that’s a Malian djembe drum on which she’s playing a West African rhythm I learned in college.


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