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We’re all on some sort of journey, aren’t we? Check back here periodically to find out more about G. Elizabeth Kretchmer’s journeys through the literary world and through life.

Monthly Archives: April 2015

Collaboration Among the Arts: Part 2

Last week, I wrote about why collaboration among the arts is important for artists, spectators, and readers. Collaboration helps us grow and learn. It evokes deeper emotion. It ensures the longevity of the various art forms.

Frederick Phillips, After the Rain

I wrote about all this from a sort of theoretical, philosophical level. This week I’d like to bring it down to earth. Collaboration among the arts is important to me because art is beautiful, and I like beautiful things.

I could end my blog right there. But I won’t, because I want to elaborate on some very important truths here.

Collaboration among the arts is good because art is beautiful.

And more art means more beauty.

And our world can use all the beauty it can get.

Face it, we live in some pretty dark times. Human trafficking. Terrorism. Political corruption and incompetence. High cost of living. Need I go on?

A painting that soothes the eye will not solve the world’s problems, but it can help us settle our anxieties. So can music, especially when it taps into our memories and helps us remember who we are. Poems and song lyrics can help us express what we’ve been feeling, whether it’s rage against society or hope for the future. And a good book that acknowledges human frailty and celebrates the joy of being human can give us the opportunity to escape into a sea of luscious language. Confucius said everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. My guess is that those who don’t see it are those who get mired in the world’s problems and who don’t take the time, or open their hearts wide enough, to appreciate art.

The Damnable Legacy cover art by Laura Paslay

Humble though I am, I do think I had a pretty kick-ass launch party for my novel last year, and one of the primary reasons it was kick-ass was that it celebrated art. First, there was Laura Paslay’s cover art. Then, there were the gorgeous poems read by Susan Chase Foster and Ann Teplick. And last, but not least, was the awe~some music by Seattle singer-songwriter Emily Leopold. The combination was a feast for the soul, and the audience loved it. They had so much fun they all forgot the I-5 bridge had been closed down.

Now, I’m going for a kick-ass short story collection. Not just the party. The whole enchilada. I haven’t figured out how to incorporate music into the book itself…but–in addition to my stories–I will be featuring another original piece of fine art on the cover and I’ll also be incorporating original poetry, by a variety of talented poets, to introduce each story. (Is this a cool idea or what?) If this multi-media presentation doesn’t evoke emotion for you when it comes out, you’re probably just plain old dead.

Collaboration creates community

Referring back to the woes of the world, we need to stick together. Especially we birds of a feather. Sure, there’s a natural sort of healthy rivalry between artists of various mediums or genres; in my MFA program it was the poets versus the prose writers.

But the truth is that both poets and writers are trying to make sense of the world and express their observations and feelings through their words, just as other artists are doing the same through other mediums, and it’s important not only to hang within our own circles but to cross-pollenate, so that even more connections can blossom. I spent some time last year at various art fairs, trying to peddle my novel alongside painters, photographers, and jewelry artists, and while I did sell a few books, what was far more rewarding was getting to know all these creative people.

I like artists (including writers) because they’re brave, spending all this time making something with no guarantee they’ll ever sell it. Matisse was right when he said creativity requires courage.

I like artists (including writers) because they have tenacity. The more they create, the more they want to create more. Maybe Maya Angelou was right about creativity when she said, “the more you use, the more you have.”

I like artists (including writers) because they’re rebellious. Tom Robbins said there is a similarity between mockingbirds and artists, both “set out to rearrange reality. Innovative, willful, daring, not bound by the rules to which others may blindly adhere to.”

And I like artists (including writers–at least some of them) because they’re fun. As the British actor John Cleese put it, “creative people have a childlike facility to play.”

Collaboration means potential for a greater reach

There is a reason someone came up with the term “struggling artist” or even “starving artist.” It’s hard to sell your work, no matter what medium or genre you work in. And whether we’re writing poems and novels, or painting in oil or acrylic or water color, it takes a great deal of time, effort, and good fortune to be successful (however you want to define that word) in this world.

I said I saw a healthy rivalry in my MFA program between the poets and writers, which is true. But I have also seen unhealthy rivalry among writers, especially those who work in the same genre. I don’t want to blather on about that here; suffice it to say that I attribute this rivalry to competition. We live in a competitive world, and maybe there are only so many words that can go around. So many books that readers will buy. Who knows?

When my oldest son was a competitive rock climber, I witnessed something remarkable. Even though the climbers were competing against one another for the prize, they were incredibly supportive of each other as well, cheering competitors on as they reached for higher, more distant handholds on the wall. Why can’t we be this way in other walks of life, I wondered at the time. And now I wonder about that in the writing world.

But here’s the good news: when we collaborate across mediums and genres, we don’t need to worry about rivalry and competition. We can just be there to support one another, like snowboarders cheering on skiers, or freestyle swimmers cheering on the butterfly gang.

And when we cheer each other on, we don’t just validate one another’s work. We help spread the word about our work to the greater world. Will collaboration among the arts generate more sales? Perhaps. But more importantly, it will generate more appreciation of the arts in general.

And more art means more beauty.

And our world can use all the beauty it can get.

 

 

 

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Collaboration Among the Arts: Part 1

I like to collaborate with other artists working in various mediums and genres. Why? Here’s Part 1 of why I think collaboration among the arts is both important and natural. Art and literature belong together like chocolate and peanut butter, or champagne and caviar, or milk and cookies. They are each created using different skills,… Continue Reading

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11 Reasons Why YOU Should Attend AWP’s Conferences

I’ve been going to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conferences nearly every year for the past several years. And every time I go I tell myself, and my husband, that I’m not going back. With over 12,000 writers in attendance, the AWP conference is not exactly an intimate gathering. And since it’s all about an industry that’s as… Continue Reading

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