Tuesday, January 07, 2020

OTM 2009 Blog Tour - Artistic Vision and Creative Doubt

CRR Blog Tour – November 2009
Host: Jane Richardson, Nov. 3

[This post first appeared at the above link but is no longer available.]

Permalink to the Tour Stops

Hi Jane! Thanks for hosting me here in your blog!

Since you’re a fellow music and art lover, I thought I’d talk today about Artistic Vision and Creative Doubt.

All art is subjective, and that includes music. As writers, we know how easy it is for doubt to creep in about our work. Some days, we can nearly believe we’re up there with Margaret Mitchell and John Irving, and other days, we can think our pages are good for nothing but fire-starting fodder. It’s the life of an artist.

Some of us listen mainly to rock or pop, others country, others classical or opera. We may prefer Van Gogh or Whistler or Picasso. Even within the same genre interests, we can disagree about what’s quality work or garbage. With no better definite mark to determine how we’re doing, we often turn to monetary success as a judgment factor. But is it? If not, how do we know? If we get an “I couldn’t put it down!” review one day from one reader and an “I can’t believe I spent money on this” review the next day from a different reader about the same book, who do we believe?

Ryan Reynauld, the hero (or rather, anti-hero who must learn to be a hero) of Off The Moon is nicknamed “Riveting” Ryan by a journalist. The name sticks, although it annoys him. He’s in the prime of his music career when the story starts, successful enough to need a bodyguard as he wanders New York City whenever he’ll be anywhere someone might expect him to be. Ryan’s great at promo and keeping his name in the media with outrageous antics. At other times, he’s a rather reluctant pop star. He doesn’t like the commercialization of his music although that’s where the big money is, and he finds ways to escape from both his fans and his guard.

 Ryan is a solo artist as well as a songwriter. He sings only his own music and there are hints throughout that writing means more to him than performing. He talks of his fans as a way to pay his bills. He has no guilt about accepting his female fans as they throw themselves at him and then walking away to the next tour city and different girls. As a songwriter, though, he’s also a true poet. He would never admit it while putting on his hard-core, nothing-gets-to-me act, but he tends to see the world through metaphor.

Ryan leaned back in the chair and stared at the edge of the table. The edge was darker than the surface, although it was the same glass.
(chapter 20)

Simple things such as a glass table can push his thoughts into something much larger. Here, he focuses on the edge, which is a huge theme of the story. Edges stand for choices, a balance between safety and danger, a forked path. Ryan walks many edges throughout the story. One of the most important is with his music. He’s often accused of arrogance because he knows what he wants and he goes after it with a ton of promo and endless hours of work. His creative vision remains purely and deeply intact, although he has trouble with standing up for himself against his manager and label when they take too much control over his music.

Very much a two-sided character, Ryan himself can be seen as a metaphor of creative doubt. His halves are in constant flux, walking that edge between the money-making whatever-it-takes path and the more sensitive artistic poet side. He has days he knows his songs are among the best out there and days he considers not bothering to write because it’s all been said already and his music isn’t worth the time and energy it takes.

It’s a path all artists must cross or balance. Most of us writers will tell you how hard it is to promote our own work. Like Ryan, it’s not because we don’t believe in it – although there are days – but because it feels an antithesis of art. On the other hand, promotion can be an art in itself.

There’s always another hand. Much of it depends on what we choose to see.

Thanks again, Jane!

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