Learn the rules like a pro; break them like an artist.
The above quote is often attributed to Pablo Picasso, though there is no actual documentation of him having said it. Variations of the above have been attributed to multiple sources, including the Dalai Lama (which is also likely to be untrue.) Regardless of who actually said it, it’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard, and it sets the tone for this blog post.
Writing is like any other art form. It has evolved over the years (centuries) allowing for various deviations from whatever was considered the norm at any given time. Historically, fiction novels were mainly written in third person past tense. First person was largely frowned upon in the publishing industry, and while present tense wasn’t as common, it wasn’t unheard of. Like any artistic medium, there is going to be an ebb and flow regarding methodology and techniques. Times are constantly changing, though they sometimes repeat themselves. Just like the fanny pack fell out of fashion and then made a comeback, so shall writing styles.
Also see: Renaissance is not the same as Impressionism which is not the same as Cubism which is not the same as Art Nouveau which is not the same as Gothic which is not the same as Expressionism… You get the idea. Does one artistic movement have more intrinsic value than another? No. Do different folks have differing opinions on works created during each of those times? Of course! Does it make anybody right or wrong? Nope.
Why is it that when it comes to technology, we embrace innovation, but when it comes to art, we scorn? We embrace technological advancement and forward thinking. But any artform outside ‘the norm’ is ridiculed.
Alright, I’m going to get all philosophical and shit when I say this…
Time isn’t linear; it’s cyclical. And it’s constantly in motion.
When it comes to art, we’re all allowed to have preferences, of course. Art is subjective. But I think it’s unrealistic to want or expect art to remain stagnant or every artist to fit a certain mold. That kind of defeats the purpose of creative expression, right? So, as an artist, being subjected to criticism is to be expected…but that doesn’t necessarily make it okay. Why we, as humans, feel it’s necessary to dissect things we don’t like under a microscope and then project our findings to the world is beyond me.
From my point of view, if you don’t like something, you take note of it and then move on. Find something you DO like and celebrate that. I’ve said this before in a previous post:
I won’t rehash what I said in the post I just linked above because you can read it for yourself.
One final thought: Consider the next time you feel compelled to criticize a piece of art (whether it’s a book, a movie, a painting, etc.) you’re also placing judgment on the creator of that piece. And if there’s anything the world needs less of right now, it’s judgment.