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To Artists: It’s About Connection, Not Self-Expression

Or, it’s more about connection than it is about self-expression. And, of course, it depends on what we’re after. If we want people (who are not our mothers) to read us, then we need connection way more than self-expression.

I’ve never read Yancey, but I like this video (below). Especially at about the 23:20 point where he expresses how difficult writing is. As Pete Peterson said on the Story panel at Hutchmoot: “Many people say, ‘I write because I can’t not write.’ I don’t get that. I can easily not write. That’s the easiest thing in the world to not do.”

Well, he said something like that and he took the words right out of my mouth, so I’m putting them back in just as I like.

It’s easy not to write. It’s painful. On the self-same panel, Jonathan Rogers explained that when it’s easy it’s not usually worthwhile.

“I’ve written books that didn’t hurt, and to tell you the truth, they’re not all that good.” Jonathan Rogers

Well, this might have been easy to write.

OK kids, back to Yancey.

At one point he advises writers, “Don’t do it alone,” and goes on to say that there are many creative people, but:

“…they’re all into self-expression…but you don’t make a living in self expression, you make a living by connecting with people who want to pay money…to say ‘this is worth my time.’”

Good point, Phillip Yancey. Good point.

Also, you have an amazing ‘fro.

I have shared this vidya content before, but thought it might be good to do again. I thought those thoughts with the thoughts in my mind.

5 Comments

  1. If we want people (who are not our mothers) to read us, then we need connection way more than self-expression.

    Is it bad that my family generally eschews my work?

    Also: that cover! Have you seen Good Show Sir? It’s a blog with only the worst SF and fantasy covers.

  2. Fratricide is a Gas.
    That book is a “third volume in a superb trilogy”. How have you not shared these treasures before.:)

    I was part of a study of a men’s study on his book on Prayer. I was very skeptical of Yancey thinking that it was shallow, light & not worth my time. He gets much coverage from the chain Christian store which makes me inherently run away. I was suprised on all counts. Good stuff and engaging. Probably good stuff because it’s engaging.

    I have a copy of Grace moving up my reading list.
    Thanks for the vidya.

  3. Spot on, old chap. I think I came face to face with why I write a couple years ago when someone asked me why I “enjoy” writing. Maybe I was in a crabby mood that day and maybe it had something to do with writing. But it brought about truth. “I don’t ‘enjoy’ writing,” I said. “I kind of hate the process. I just don’t like who I am when I’m not writing.”

    There’s a certain pressure to keep churning out things that are beautiful and that, among other things, sucks the joy out of being one of those brooding types inclined to write things down.

    At the same time, that pressure needs to be fed so that it doesn’t go away. Otherwise, we might become content with what comes easily. When there’s a standard to uphold – and hopefully raise – any ol’ words just won’t do. Gah! There’s a balance in there somewhere. I, of course, can’t find it. Imagine, if you will, a crazy lady running around screaming, swears she’s being chased by a real booger of a nothing at all. She can’t even calm down enough to make sense or be logical or rational. She believes everything she hears that might sound something like, “the,” “sky,” “is,” or, “falling.” Pandelerium. This is me on the inside when I think, “Hmmm…let’s devote some time to songwriting today.”

  4. I love the fact that the author of Fratricide is a Gas has the last name of Gutteridge. I would say you can’t make this stuff up, but it seems likely that Mr. or Ms. Gutteridge did make it up.

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