Joseph Conrad wrote, "A work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line. And art itself may be defined as the single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect. It is an attempt to find in its forms, in its colors, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life, what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential - their one illuminating and convincing quality - the very truth of their existence."
Since I have taken upon myself the stand that art in literature must be held to a high standard, I would like to share some of that struggle with you. It is one thing to write about classic literature, as I have done in 'American Masters' (and have tried to raise the level of nonfiction there also), but it is another to attempt it ourselves. 'The Struggle' is my novel in progress. It is the story of a man in an Eastern European country caught up in the war to liberate his people. Their rebellion, however, is crushed completely after many years of fighting. What emerges in the aftermath of that war, however, is a different kind of struggle. It is the kind of struggle that was fought by Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. (among many others - myself included). It is the way of nonviolence that emerges when a people grow tired of resorting always to violence to solve its problems. I'm not going to give away the whole story, of course, but I think you can see where I'm headed with this. I'm going to attempt to justify my art in every line.
On my desk I have two reminders: "Create Community" and "Tell The Story". It has become more and more the responsibility of the author to create a communtity around his/her work because a publishing house is simply not going to spend much to promote an unknown author or work. Sorry, that's just how it is. They will spend millions to promote someone who is already a bestseller and so does not need the boost. But they will spend only pennies on an unknown. Small wonder most authors, even very good ones, slip into oblivion.
Second, tell the story. That is a reminder not only for my work (see yesterday's blog about plot); but to let my readers know what story I'm trying to tell and how I am struggling with the material to get it into the shape in the form of 'art'. That is what I'm about here. I am not really in the position to offer advice - your way to art is just as valid as mine - but I would like to share some of the struggle I am going through.
Hope you'll stay tuned as that is all played out here on my blog site. Please post a comment whenever you are moved to do so.