1. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering

    The Job of the Writer?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Andrae Smith, Jun 10, 2014.

    Hey y'all,

    I was on youtube today watching a video by a youtuber whom I actually hold some respect for as an intelligent appreciator and critic of art and culture in general (although she focuses on comics, movies, and books)--but that's either here or there. Anyway, the video was called "PSA: I'm sorry George R R Martin," and in it she explained how much pressure he and other artists are from their publishers, studios, and fans. She was pretty much tellign fans to back off, get off his grill, and let him do the work he needs to do.

    At the end of the video, she mentions the following quote from Alan Moore:

    I'm wondering what you guys think about that. It reminds me, to an extent, of discussions we've held before, like Ed's point of avoiding "writing by committee." Personally, I agree with this sentiment. While we should be aware of what our audience is looking for, we must recognize our places as the authors and creators of our worlds.

    I looked up the quote and found that Moore had a lot more to say. He basically relates artists and writers to masters of magic. I thought it would be nice to share it to see what you guys thought:

     
  2. Thumpalumpacus
    Offline

    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    106
    Location:
    Texas
    He seems to be practicing an awful lot of equivocation. However, I have said in the past that "music is the last form of magic", because in the bands I've been in, when we improvise and it all works out, it feels like there was telepathy happening. It wasn't; it's just that the longer you play together, the more you know the proclivities of your bandmates, and the better you may shape your own playing to suit those proclivities. Magic need not apply.

    I believe that the role of the artist is to produce art. Capture and channel the inspiration in such a manner that others feel (on reading / listening / viewing your work) what you felt when you were inspired to create. I wrote a paean to the act of creation once:

     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2014
    minstrel and Andrae Smith like this.
  3. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    It depends on the audience for sure, and it's important for the writer to know his/her audience. Sometimes the job is to entertain (for example, pretty much any modern best seller); other times it's to inform (articles, essays, etc.); and sometimes it's both. I've always argued that writers should be writing for a like-minded audience. That way, they know exactly what their readers expect.

    I agree with that girl. People should leave Martin alone. Yes, he's taking an insanely long time to write the next book, but that's just how writing goes. It can take years to complete a novel. I think more people should be aware of that.
     
    minstrel and Andrae Smith like this.
  4. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,965
    Likes Received:
    5,490
    Re:

    "It’s not the job of the artist to give the audience what the audience wants. If the audience knew what they needed, then they wouldn’t be the audience. They would be the artists. It is the job of artists to give the audience what they need."

    My general attitude is "pfft."

    But then I agree with the functional, if not the underlying, meaning of the message.

    I quite agree that it's not the job of the artist to give the audience what the audience wants. It's the job of the artist to give the audience what the artist has to give, and to hope that that is what the audience wants or needs.

    We as an audience have no business telling the artist what to give us, because what we want, or even what we need, is not going to change what the artist has to give.

    My "pfft" is about the implication that the artist has superior knowledge of what we need. He has what he has. We need what we need. Sometimes those coincide.
     
    jannert, Thumpalumpacus, Okon and 4 others like this.
  5. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,234
    Likes Received:
    1,802
    Location:
    Australia
    Many inventions have come and gone when the creator designed something they believed everyone would need. They failed and have been forgotten.

    Other inventions were created to serve a particular purpose, was adapted for broader usage, and changed the world.

    You don't tell people what they need. People will discover what they need.

    Write to meet a purpose, not to 'give 'em what they need.'

    Harry Potter was written for kids. That was it's purpose.
     
  6. plothog
    Offline

    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    514
    Location:
    England
    What the audience wants/needs, implies that the audience is some sort of hive mind, incapable of individual thought. Even within the existing fan base of an author different people will want different things out of the next book in a series.
     
    jannert likes this.
  7. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    I took his comment more as giving the story what it needs. In that sense, it's less about assuming the audiences desires and needs and recognizing that they'll likely get what they're looking for if you create your piece according to what is best for it. That goes for any art form I believe. That is not to say it will please everyone, but few things ever do, right? :p
     
    jannert likes this.
  8. grimmsistr
    Offline

    grimmsistr Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    land of Andersen's fairytales
    I agree with this and your quote expands and makes that Moore guys quote seem like just the first step in that string of thought.

    Also as we as audience have no business telling the artists what they should give us. The author/artists have no business telling the audience what they need. Then they will become preachy, I as an audience member dont like stories or art that seem preachy to me.
     
    jannert likes this.
  9. plothog
    Offline

    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    639
    Likes Received:
    514
    Location:
    England
    I guess they'll be plenty of times where a writer has created all sorts of subtle setups for future parts of a series. If he/she deviates to much from his plans (maybe due to perceived audience expectations) then the series as a whole won't be such a cohesive work.
     
    jannert likes this.
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    a hearty 'amen' to all that!

    as a practicing philosopher-writer, it's my job to give readers what they need, but when i was writing fiction and when i'm now editing/ghostwriting fiction/screenplays for clients, then my/our job is only to entertain the readers/audience, not decide what they need...
     
  11. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    Another thing to keep in mind is that literature is open to interpretation. I may think I'm writing something my readers want, but they may end up interpreting the piece in a way I hadn't expected. That's just another reason why we shouldn't concern ourselves too much with what the audience wants.
     
    jannert and Andrae Smith like this.
  12. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    That makes me wonder where you and others stand on "moral fiction." Well no, your stance seems pretty clear, as you've just spelled it out. But does this mean you are opposed to it? I ask mainly because I am borrowing a copy of John Gardner's On Moral Fiction, in which he discusses what moral fiction is, as well as the approach literary critics could/should take when analyzing literature for is message and worth, so to speak. I haven't gotten far enough to explicate his ideas further, but his main argument is that "true art is by its nature moral." Of course, that hinges on what he means "by moral." Personally, I like the way it's explained in here in an article on booksandculture.com

     
  13. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    Ow! @Andrae Smith, please read Gardner's own essay, and The Art of Fiction, and watch out for that booksandculture.com article. It seems to me that whoever wrote that article misunderstands Gardner's position. You might also want to check out Gardner's interview in the Paris Review - he discusses his major points there.

    On Moral Fiction damaged Gardner's career as a novelist, mostly because he named names - he accused some of his peers of not writing moral fiction, and the literary community turned against him because of that. Gardner was a bit of a curmudgeon, but he was a terrific writer and knew what he was doing with that essay. Moral fiction was deeply important to him, more so than his own reputation, it seems. He thought long and hard about his position, and he shouldn't be ignored.

    IMO, of course! :)
     
    Andrae Smith likes this.
  14. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    I was getting that feeling from some of the things I've read surrounding On Moral Fiction. Maybe you're right in that the author of that article misunderstood Gardner's position, in which case, I may be also. I am still in the beginning, but I'll be sure to let you know when I finish. I brought it up hoping for more opinions on it. The Art of Fiction actually is on my list. I was looking it up on Amazon when I stumbled on On Moral Fiction. It seemed like an interesting read, or at least, it may pose some interesting opinions that would be well worth my time given a bit of context. :) I'll take your advice to heart.
     
  15. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    Gardner's The Art of Fiction is my favorite book on writing. It's dense in parts, but very inspiring, and it washes the cruddy taste of Swain, Bickham, et al. from your mouth. :)
     
  16. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Awk!!
     
  17. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    :wtf: :confused:
     
  18. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    It's funny that you say that because I was introduced to Gardner while looking up Bickham's Scene and Structure, which I plan to start here later today.
     
  19. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I'm reading Bickham's Scene and Structure right now, actually. It goes down a whole lot easier than Swain's turgid book, but Bickham makes the same erroneous assumptions about readers that Swain does, alas. Also, I don't like his habit of using examples from his own novels - they're just about all out of print, so I can't look them up conveniently! (It says something about a writing teacher when all his books are out of print, I think. :p I would have thought he'd draw his examples from classic novels, novels that are still in print and can be expected to remain so for decades into the future at least.)
     
  20. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    @minstrel - sorry it's an inside joke.
     
  21. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    As with anything, it seems best to take it with a grain of salt. ;)
     
    minstrel likes this.

Share This Page