Often quoted on art, visionary British poet and painter, William Blake, had very definite views on what makes art great. “The great and golden rule of art is this: that the more distinct, sharp and wiry the bounding line, the more perfect the work of art: and the less keen and sharp, the greater is the evidence of weak imagination, plagiarism and bungling.”
William Blake’s insightful thoughts on writing and creativity have long inspired famous creators. (Image: public domain.)
This is sound advice every writer should absorb. Blake means you must avoid the general and go for the particular, the specific, the unique, the distinctive. These days we might use the word “generic” to describe what he stands so vehemently against.
Fantasy author Brian S. Pratt is an excellent example of an indie writer who has achieved remarkable success.
All writing is a kind of art. The most popular forms (fantasy, for instance, or horror and vampire novels) are examples of folk art. They are to literature what country music is to classical. (That is, unless you happen to be Bram Stoker!) Indie writers can be rough around the edges, but they are artists nonetheless. If you are an indie, seeing yourself as an artist can help you take yourself – and your work – more seriously. Writers who take themselves seriously become better writers.
Writing about art has always been a popular pastime for artists of every kind, and a few philosophers as well. Younger indies, however, may not yet have seen much of this, so I will put a few choice tidbits on the table.
Tolstoy writes, “The business of art lies in just this, – to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible…” For writers, this means the dramatizations of fiction can make clear what real life discussion, or even the carefully worded arguments of non-fiction, cannot. Fiction can arouse our emotions in just the right way to drive the point home.
I would like to recommend a few how-to-write titles. Every author collects a small shelf of these books as they learn their craft. You may have a few (or a lot) already. If you do, then you probably have your own favourites. Perhaps I can add a title or two to your list. If you are just beginning, the books here will ensure you get off to a good start.
From the earliest days of writing, aspiring authors have garnered shelves of books about writing in all its aspects. A few select titles become inspiring favourites. (Image: Wikimedia)
I am new to being an indie, but I have been writing for over twenty years – mostly as a keep-me-sane hobby in a chaotic world. Yet, I still like to revisit the odd how-to-write manual now and then. Doing this helps eject any bad habits that may have crept in (and they do keep creeping in!). Some of the recommended books go back a ways, but sound writing principles have not changed over the years. The classic books about writing are the ones found useful by large numbers of writers. Many of today’s most successful writers (of any kind) got started with these very books.