They Just Don’t Understand Me/My Work

The pitiful and often ear shattering cry of artists and teenagers alike.

Well, certain kinds of artists, but that didn’t scan as nicely.

For teenagers, yes, it really is a phase and you will grow out of it. Every adult has been a teenager and while you have many more entertainment distractions and far less responsibilities – that hormone upheaval has been experienced before you and after you.

As for the complaining artists – well, sometimes I think that you didn’t grow out of the phase.

When I hear this phrase from adult artists – regardless of the kind of artist they are – writer, painter, sculpture, mixed media, dance, singer, whatever….

I point out that the created work is a communication between the artist and the audience.  Each art form has it’s own rules and expectations

That’s a failure on the creator’s side and  I think that arises from one these scenarios:

1. The creator doesn’t really know what they are saying (or has nothing to say), so there can be no clear message, commentary, statement from the work

2. The creator is being too clever or precious about the method of expression that they lost the connection to the message

3. The creator has overreached their abilities, and simply lacks the ability to express the meaning either with their current craft or via that means of expression – sometimes it’s better to do a documentary than a fictional movie.

4. The creator’s a whiny brat who’s sulking and feeling sorry for themselves – and it’s not about the audience getting it, but rather that the audience doesn’t like it. The creator is confusing the two things – insisting that if they “got it” then liking follows – so if they didn’t like it, then they didn’t get it.

5. Sometimes it’s not directly the creator, but rather that they’ve chosen a message that  just isn’t big enough or appropriate to be supported by the expression method, so it’s like not having one.  Wanting to tell an entertaining story, isn’t really a message, it’s a career aspiration.

my favorite one:

6.  It’s usually by a person who has for no apparent reason ignored, broken or simply refuses to learn the rules and conventions of their chosen genre of expression.

These rules and conventions are the pact between creator and audience,
and until you master them, you ignore them at your peril.

The audience has certain expectations of the movie, the novel, the painting, the poem – and when they are recklessly broken or abandoned for no clear purpose, then indifference and dislike should be expected.

I think this is why poetry has pretty much lost it’s hold as a major art form – poetry abandoned all rules and structures that audiences came to expect.

And these rules weren’t limiting to the writers in various editions of the Norton Anthology of Literature.

Poetry went from structured works to anything goes – it’s like you’ve gone to a football game and everyone’s wearing different uniforms and sports gear and there’s 5 different balls and a puck on the field -which is half covered in ice – and everyone runs around independantly of anyone else – then they announce that the final score is Eleventy-Q to pink butter and goodnight.

You have no clue what you’ve just seen.

Well, put the created work you just did away and look at it again in 6 months to a year – can you figure out what it was you were going for?

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