Hello everyone! It’s Sadina here, one of the Opus co-editors. This month is so exciting because Opus has so many events scheduled!
Samantha Grody, Opus Art Editor
You know what’s weird? Erasure poems. I’m a pretty skeptical person, and not easily persuaded to let that go. So when Rob, my English 355 professor, pulled out paint and paintbrushes for class my eyebrows raised. The class began to individually paint over words in books we brought to create what are known as erasure poems. This is the book I brought:
Let’s talk about Netflix.
I recently came across a quote from Chuck Wendig. “The easiest way to separate yourself from
the unformed mass of “aspiring” writers,” he says, “ is to a) actually write and b) actually finish.
That’s how easy it is to clamber up the ladder to the second echelon.”
If you think about the amount of people who aspire to write—or commit to any work of art,
really—there are far fewer people who actually finish what they start. That’s what Wendig gets
at with his idea. Just finish what you start. Okay, so it’s that easy to transcend the plane of
“aspiring” writers to the heavenly domain of artists who complete their work. Then why can’t
most people achieve their goal?
According to Steven Pressfield, there’s a whole host of reasons why people fail to achieve their
artistic endeavors, which he outlines in his book, The War of Art. Pressfield identifies Resistance
as the number one inhibitor of creative activity; it’s the force that whispers in your head, “I’ll
have more time for this tomorrow,” and “My art will never be good enough,” and “I don’t feel
well, I can’t work on this now.” All of which are invalid excuses for someone who wants to
complete an artistic work. If you, aspirer, are anything like me, you know that “tomorrow” you
won’t have the time. If I don’t write now, I never will.
If you struggle to find the motivation to fulfill your artistic endeavors, check out The War of Art.
It’s inspiration at its finest.
All this is to say: Pick up that pen, that paintbrush, or that camera. If you’re going to finish your
art, you have to start it first.
Disclaimer: this is one person’s opinion, and is not intended to offend anyone.
In art, there is little that is considered cliché. Drawing on past artists’ work is expected and celebrated, and using well-known objects for their connotations is common and generally received well. To be fair, this has not always been the case. Art is still divided into craft, kitsch, fine, indigenous, etc, and pop art images of soup cans had to fight their way into the world of fine art. However, in writing the line between “earning the cliché” and sounding cheesy can be much more difficult to identify. There are published writers, and there are unpublished writers. There is work that is ready and work that needs… Well, needs work. Using clichés is almost a guarantee that you will be considered as the latter: the unprepared, unpublished author. How do we reclaim these clichés? Own them and weave them, earn them, in our work? Essentially, how can we make the everyday language and stories exceptional?
Again, I return to art, where changing the surroundings, scale, or level of distortion can draw attention to and celebrate the everyday. However, simply placing a cliché in a new context is often not enough to make a piece of writing acceptable. Scale, though different here, can help though. Make your writing a soundscape. In the words of Gabe Lewis (for you Office fans), “imagine one instant of a song, expanded to be the size of the universe.” Imagine the minutiae of your cliché and make them important. Take your cliché and dig so far into that person or that feeling that your audience feels and sees what you feel when you hear that cliché. Details, bodily sensations, imagery. When I see successful use of clichés, the line seems like an inevitable following to a superb description of that cliché; it serves as the bow on an already beautifully wrapped gift.
I am sure there are many other ways to make successful writing with clichés, but this is a short description of an important frame of mind I believe can lead to such a success. So this blog can serve as a challenge to you. Show us how you can take clichés and common subject matter and make them important, relevant, and new!