Monday, November 12, 2012
Your Art Matters (Right?)
Last Saturday night, Derek Webb performed a concert at my church. I took this (blurry as usual) pic while he sang "She Must and Shall Go Free," a song that's meant a lot to me in this phase of my life. Most of the concert was a front-to-back performance of his new concept album, Ctrl. (Verdict: Not really my cup of tea, but I appreciate what he's trying to do.) The opening act and backup band was Page CXVI, who lived up to their hype. Overall, it was an unusual but interesting show.
Between songs, Latifah of Page CXVI talked naturally and insightfully about the creative process and being a creative person. I was surprised to feel envious of her freedom to express herself and her emotions - the good, the bad, and the ugly - through music, and her assurance that that expression is valuable and even glorifying to God. And her assumption that someone will care about it. Most of the time, I don't feel that way about my writing at all. I rarely get the satisfaction of knowing that I said exactly what I wanted to say, and it meant something. I don't write what I really think (at least publicly, and often not even to friends) because it's too negative, too controversial, too personal, and no one really cares anyway. I tend to feel that God isn't honored by that stuff. But if King David had felt that way, we wouldn't have a lot of the Psalms. If Alanis Morisette had felt that way, we wouldn't all still be singing about Dave Coulier 15 years later.
I sometimes struggle with a sense of futility and meaninglessness. Writing is obviously a big component of this. When does my writing count? Is it enough when it's between me and God? Is it enough if it means something to just one other person? When does my art matter? Do I even have a right to call it art, or to call myself a writer? Isn't "real" writing limited to books that are read by millions of people, not silly blog posts?
If anyone has some answers or general thoughts, I would love to hear them.