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.


  1. I, too, struggle with this. It's the whole 'if a tree falls in the forest when nobody is around, does it make a sound?' thing.

    For me, writing is personal. It's my personal outlet when I'm stressed, it's my creative outlet when I have any mind left at all, and it's my way of record keeping special moments (or tough ones). Most of this is currently done on my very tiny blog. Would I love to write something awesome that makes people everywhere want and need to read it? Yes and no.

    I always wanted to be an author, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to be that brave yet. Brave enough to try, anyway. In the only thing I have published so far (part of a collection), I used my initials. On my blog, I use my initial. I'm not out of the "boat" yet. Aside from my family and close friends, no one really knows I'm a writer at heart and a wanna-be author since the age of nine or ten.

    I keep telling myself "someday." But in the meantime, I've found satisfaction in knowing how my writing benefits me and how I hope by doing something I truly love and enjoy, this glorifies my Father.

    Short answer: I think my art does matter.

    1. EXACTLY. I almost said the same thing about the tree falling.

      Thanks for your thoughts! I'm glad you feel justified in your writing.

  2. Your writing matters to you, right? Then it matters. End of discussion.

    At least thats what we should all believe.

    When I write it often comes out of a place that somehow requires I write it or it will continue to take up head space and demand my constant attention. Consequently it matters to people who don't even know anything about it. Because when its not in my head taking up space I have more room for them.

    Write and write with passion. Without thought of where it might lead. Write because that is who you are - a writer!

    1. Thanks for this encouragement! I really think you're on to something. Writing is how I process life, and more often than not I have to "write myself out" to even get a clear sense of how I really feel or what God is trying to show me. Most of that doesn't make it here though. :) Glad I'm not the only one who works that way.

  3. I am almost always blessed by what you write. One of the most important things I've read, I think, is that you shouldn't write to please others. Yes, you should write to honor God, but that's not what I'm saying. If you're writing to please someone, you're probably not being completely honest to yourself. Sometimes what you'll write will be ugly or harsh, but other times it will be beautiful and touching. It's all good and it's all necessary. The more you write, the more you grow, and yes, I think of you as a writer.


    I do understand your self-doubt, though. Why do you think I rarely write more than a blog post or book review? It's scary.

    1. THANK YOU for all of this. Very reassuring. *hugs*