Some people know their path clearly from the start. As writers they get a degree in Literature, go to writers seminars and very soon a novel is on the way, a novel that fits in one of the established genres. Musicians either have classical training and get academic degrees or are part of a band that tries to make it. But what if you don’t fit in any of these? What if you, like me, are a wanderer? You write and also practice another art form? Write and paint? Write and do scientific research for a living? Having diverse skills and interests can be confusing, overwhelming and certainly can stop you from fulfilling your goals as a writer or artist in general. I´m sharing some ideas that have helped me focus.
Finding your core
I know you are interested in learning Japanese, in going to a writer retreat in Bali, in songwriting, in using a new software to produce music, in how 3D mapping works…and that´s all great. But not concentrating in your core interests, worse, not knowing them, may lead you to wander endlessly without focusing your efforts on those things you are good at, things that other people recognize you are good at. That lack of focus will not get you the financial support and experience that you need to grow. So as a simple exercise, ask people who are enthusiastic about your work what they remember or cherish the most of all your production. Maybe most people remember a short story you published some time ago, but you insist in writing haikus no one gets? In my case I realized my audience enjoys listening to my poetry readings. In my last violin recital I read poetry in between pieces and sold an anthology of short stories in which one of my short stories (about a female composer) was featured. When we find those areas of interest that make us shine, everyone notices.
What about mixing?
If you practice two art forms, think of ways you can mix both. I have made extensive Internet search trying to get ideas. There are musicians that write novels in which the main theme is the music scene they know so well. If you have been in the orchestral circuit for years, you can write a mystery novel about the robbery of a priceless violin or the unexpected (and suspicious) death of the concertmaster. If you are into the rock scene just describing what it is to hit the road with a band can be of great interest to many readers. If you are into digital art, working on innovative ways to narrate using the possibilities of digital software is a whole new area. Your two or more artistic skills can blend to help you create something uniquely yours. Of course, you can choose not to mix both.
Find a topic you love, and love it some more
I notice that artists that are more successful in obtaining funding, scholarships, residencies and patronage are those that have a single project that they develop throughout the years. The project reflects their unique set of skills and background. No one else could replicate it. Writers that find their own voice, their own unique story, their quirkiness and can translate that into writing will be unforgettable to readers that connect with that spirit. In the end, artists create an experience with sounds, movement, shapes, colors, textures and a writer has the craft to take all that and shape it with words.
Words beyond paper
You can find words all around you. In graffiti, in cards, in text messages, in signs along the road. Why think of literature as an art form that can only reside in the pages of a book? Visual arts, performance, installations and digital art can be used to give literary works another perspective. Electronic literature is a very interesting field worth exploring.
In another life I would love to paint, just to recreate my favorite scenes of my favorite books. Wait a minute… I can learn painting! Nah, just kidding… or maybe not. I hope these ideas help you write in a way that integrates all of your skills and reflects your uniqueness. Go, wander, wonder and write!
Can you share with us an artist you like that combines writing with another art form?
Taylor Herrera writes poetry and prose, and her works include Tiempos Acuáticos, Amables Predicciones, Microcosmos, Atrapasueño, and Camino a Mariato, which was awarded the 2009 Central American Rafaela Contreras prize. Her writing has received international recognition and has been translated into English, French, German and Polish. English translations of her writing appear in Asymptote, Ezra, Metamorphoses, and PRISM International, and Exchange.
Connect with Melanie:
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter