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RemusShepherd
08-24-2010, 09:09 PM
I've been trying to put this into words for years, but Scott Adams says it better than I could:


The Artist's Secret is that all art comes from abnormal brains. So if you create art that satisfies your own tastes, you have created for a market of exactly one abnormal person. If you're lucky, a handful of other freaks get some joy from your creations too. But it won't be enough to pay your bills. It's not a career until you learn to create products that normal people like.

That nugget of wisdom is key, I think. It's why the Long Tail exists, and it's the root of the vague admonition to 'Kill your Darlings'. It is not, however, an answer -- just a clear restatement of the problem.

Scott Adams apparently triangulates on what normal people like by soliciting input from his fans. That's useful if you already have fans, I suppose.

What's your strategy? How do identify what elements of your writing do not work for the mainstream, and how do you tune your writing away from your own niche tastes and toward a more marketable average?

timewaster
08-24-2010, 09:22 PM
I think if I did that I would sell more books. I still write stuff that works for me and a small but discerning readership : )

I think I should simplify my stuff ( I write YA) but which bits should I take out? There is always a danger that you lose the very thing that makes it worth publishing in the first place. it isn't as straight forward as you might think.

Chris P
08-24-2010, 09:26 PM
That brings to mind many quotes from others. Joel Hodgeson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame said "we never write a joke wondering who's going to get it; we write a joke knowing the right people will get it." However, this doesn't resolve the "abnormal brains" observation.

Kurt Vonnegut said something to the effect of "you should write to make one particular person smile." It's in the intro to Bagombo Snuffbox if you're curious. This gets me out of my own head and gets me thinking of the reader. However, if that one person has an abnormal brain also I've not done much.

I wrote the ending of my currently-being-betad book to suit my now-exwife so "it doesn't end stupid." I happen to love stupid endings (meaning the good guy doesn't quite get what he wants), but since the movies she watches are blockbusters and the ones I watch win foreign awards but never hit the theaters, I figured more people would be pleased by a not-stupid ending.

So far, my short stories have been received somewhat favorably, I figure I'm not too far off with how I do things.

Miss Plum
08-24-2010, 10:01 PM
I simply don't agree that "all art comes from abnormal brains," even though we artists like to think so at times. Many people, artists and non-artists alike, call themselves abnormal or crazy as a sort of badge of honor or as a defense for less-than-sensible behavior. I'm skeptical about those boasts.

Phaeal
08-24-2010, 10:06 PM
Who wants to be normal?

quicklime
08-24-2010, 10:35 PM
I've been trying to put this into words for years, but Scott Adams says it better than I could:



That nugget of wisdom is key, I think. It's why the Long Tail exists, and it's the root of the vague admonition to 'Kill your Darlings'. It is not, however, an answer -- just a clear restatement of the problem.

Scott Adams apparently triangulates on what normal people like by soliciting input from his fans. That's useful if you already have fans, I suppose.

What's your strategy? How do identify what elements of your writing do not work for the mainstream, and how do you tune your writing away from your own niche tastes and toward a more marketable average?


I guess I just plain disagree. There's a lot of common chords under the surface that ANY story is about. Bridges of Madison County wasn't about a photographer, or bridges. It was about love and infidelity,. and those were the subjects people latched onto. Whole books have been written about underlying subtext in books like The Lord of the Rings, or Moby Dick.

Maybe some people have trouble identifying the mainstream chords within their book, but I suspect very, very few are so out there that they want to tell a story nobody wants to hear, and have to deliberately bury some inner meaning or tilt it towards the mainstream.

on the other hand, there are genres like splatterpunk where when it is done well, it's perfectly fine, but it already lies so close to an edge that bad writers fling themselves over that edge. However, they aren't so much telling a story as deliberately pushing an envelope in an attempt to titillate. Write an actual story, and the above should take care of itself, imho.

quicklime
08-24-2010, 10:37 PM
I simply don't agree that "all art comes from abnormal brains," even though we artists like to think so at times. Many people, artists and non-artists alike, call themselves abnormal or crazy as a sort of badge of honor or as a defense for less-than-sensible behavior. I'm skeptical about those boasts.


thank you.

I've also seen a lot of people use the term "artist" as an excuse for a whole lot of high-handed, elitist douchery. I'm thinking more of a couple people I've met in dance than in writing specifically, but I've seen plenty of "writers" like that too. I doubt anyone is "normal", but I have a knee-jerk reaction to anyone who brags about it or feels a need to flaunt it.....and an only slightly smaller reaction to anyone who wants to insist they are an artist.

timewaster
08-24-2010, 10:51 PM
I'm not sure that the initial quote was elitist actually. Most people don't feel the urge to write a novel those that do are 'abnormal' by definition, in that respect at least.
Like many YA writers I don't write for real children but for the child I recall being. I wasn't typical then and I don't think the kind of bookish introverted weirdo is any more common now - except in books (many of us who write were not popular mainstream people.)

There is no suggestion in this that weird bookish people are in anyway superior to any other kind just the recognition that there are not as many of them as those trying to make a living writing from them would like : )

timewaster
08-24-2010, 11:03 PM
[ Write an actual story, and the above should take care of itself, imho.[/QUOTE]

I don't think that is true. While some deeply esoteric books have found out their niche is rather large, many writers aiming for their version of the mainstream go awry. Sometimes that's bad writing, poor marketing etc sometimes it is just that what interests the writer and for them is universal turns out to strike a chord with few others.

quicklime
08-24-2010, 11:07 PM
I'm not sure that the initial quote was elitist actually. Most people don't feel the urge to write a novel those that do are 'abnormal' by definition, in that respect at least.
Like many YA writers I don't write for real children but for the child I recall being. I wasn't typical then and I don't think the kind of bookish introverted weirdo is any more common now - except in books (many of us who write were not popular mainstream people.)

There is no suggestion in this that weird bookish people are in anyway superior to any other kind just the recognition that there are not as many of them as those trying to make a living writing from them would like : )


I never said they were all bookish nerds, on the contrary I think they are all regular folks doing a job that some try to pretend is less regular than it really is. The OP's quote said artists had abnormal brains; I'm thinking they don't have abnormal brains for wanting to write anymore than cops do for being cops.

There is no "abnormal writing brain", IMHO that is just a lot of self-serving bullshit

quicklime
08-24-2010, 11:11 PM
[ Write an actual story, and the above should take care of itself, imho.

I don't think that is true. While some deeply esoteric books have found out their niche is rather large, many writers aiming for their version of the mainstream go awry. Sometimes that's bad writing, poor marketing etc sometimes it is just that what interests the writer and for them is universal turns out to strike a chord with few others.[/QUOTE]


I think anything, written well and with the underpinnings that make it relatable, sells. Books have been written about sanitation workers, astronauts, time travel, magic, tollbooth workers, and taxidermists and all gone on to be successful--what do you have in mind that is less interesting or relatable to the general public than the examples above?

Certainly books have failed, but because they were garbage or because they may have detailed these things right down to mind-numbing minutae, but they failed to tell a story. Telling you exactly how I set my plate reader today to run an experiment and how I loaded my plate of cells may be a niche, and would be boring, but it's also not a story. It's a procedural account. Telling you how I did all this while pining for my dead wife's sister or waiting for the boss to come through announcing a round of cuts does tell a story.

Hallen
08-24-2010, 11:12 PM
What's your strategy? How do identify what elements of your writing do not work for the mainstream, and how do you tune your writing away from your own niche tastes and toward a more marketable average?

Some would say you must sacrifice your artistry and write to a know trope with simple character archetypes and a simple plot. The biggest mainstream market out there is romance. If you want to appeal to that market, write a romance novel that follows the formula that is used in other books of that type. (I'm not trying to disparage romance. But we all know that many romance stories are very similar. It's the nature of the beast. Just as many fantasy novels are very similar.)

Or

Write what you love and tell a good story. Identify what is important to the story and do not deviate from that. Make your characters multidimensional and real. Use the universal foundations of any story: love, hate, betrayal, compassion, mystery, tensions, resolution, etc. Do not indulge yourself with purple prose and tangents that don't support the real story. Your story may still not appeal to the romance market, but you'll find a market for it if you've done a good job. If you happen to have the gift of words too, then you might have yourself a masterpiece that also happens to sell well.

quicklime
08-24-2010, 11:14 PM
do note you are of course free to disagree, but again, my personal feeling is there is no "artist's brain", just people who would rather believe it in order to feel special. There is no "biologist's brain", "dancer's brain," or "proctologist's brain" either

Cyia
08-24-2010, 11:25 PM
I am a freak.
I write freaks.
I write them freakishly well.

:D

C.M.C.
08-25-2010, 12:20 AM
I would take any advice about targeting work to meet the taste of the masses with a grain of salt. I don't think it can be done, given how fickle people tend to be.

RemusShepherd
08-25-2010, 12:30 AM
Maybe some people have trouble identifying the mainstream chords within their book, but I suspect very, very few are so out there that they want to tell a story nobody wants to hear, and have to deliberately bury some inner meaning or tilt it towards the mainstream.

on the other hand, there are genres like splatterpunk where when it is done well, it's perfectly fine, but it already lies so close to an edge that bad writers fling themselves over that edge. However, they aren't so much telling a story as deliberately pushing an envelope in an attempt to titillate. Write an actual story, and the above should take care of itself, imho.

I think this is a misconception that needs to be corrected. It's not a matter of a story being too far 'out there' that makes it unpalatable. Rather, each person has specific, unique images that appeal to them and may not appeal to others.

Take the example that Scott Adams gave. He had a manager who was lactating, and he put a tiny regulator (as in bureaucrat) in their shirt pocket. That's a visual pun that he found hilarious...but his audience didn't like it.

So it's not being 'out there'. It's being different. It's striking a chord that sounds clear and perfect to you, but sounds out of tune to everyone else.

And yes, as someone with an abnormal brain, I would like to learn how to strike that chord so that everyone likes its sound. I've had enough of being unique, I would like to try being accepted now.

Shadow_Ferret
08-25-2010, 12:33 AM
A few things.

I have never considered myself an artist.

I don't consider myself abnormal.

I write stories like the ones I enjoy reading, which means there's already a market for it.

Cyia
08-25-2010, 12:42 AM
I don't consider myself abnormal.

*glances at Ferret's avi*

:P

kuwisdelu
08-25-2010, 12:45 AM
I don't try to make my writing more mainstream. I like it how it is. If other people like it, too, that will make me happy. But I don't write to make money. I have another degree for that. If I never have a big readership, that's fine with me. But I'd like to think there are a few other abnormal people out there that will like what I like and feel how I feel.

Jamesaritchie
08-25-2010, 01:43 AM
I've been trying to put this into words for years, but Scott Adams says it better than I could:



That nugget of wisdom is key, I think. It's why the Long Tail exists, and it's the root of the vague admonition to 'Kill your Darlings'. It is not, however, an answer -- just a clear restatement of the problem.

Scott Adams apparently triangulates on what normal people like by soliciting input from his fans. That's useful if you already have fans, I suppose.

What's your strategy? How do identify what elements of your writing do not work for the mainstream, and how do you tune your writing away from your own niche tastes and toward a more marketable average?

God, I hate it when writer's start talking about "art," as if art is always good, or always justified, or as if something is art just because someone created it.

You don't have to solicit anything from fans to know what "normal" people like. You just have to take a quick look at the NYT list.

Abnormal brains, my ass. That's just more amateur psychiatry, more hogwash, and has no basis at all in reality.

The quote may or may not be elitist, but it is idiotic.

kuwisdelu
08-25-2010, 01:50 AM
Well someone needs to write the stories for the other abnormal people. I'd like to be that person.

Mr. Anonymous
08-25-2010, 02:09 AM
I think everyone is capable of art, and to me, art is simply the act of creation, in any way you know how, with whatever tools you have available.

However, I will say that it does take a certain kind of person to step away from practicality and pursue something, not for the traditional reason (money, fame, fortune), but out of the simple need to create and share this creation.

Again, I think ALL people are like this to an extent, but not all people act on it.

So, we have to ask, WHY don't they act on it? Why aren't they DRIVEN to act on it? You may disagree, of course, but I believe Carlos Ruiz Zafon, in his Angel's Game, writing from the perspective of a writer in early twentieth century Barcelona, attributes this need to vanity. There may be other factors at play, sure, but I think vanity is a big part. Knowing that people are reading your words. Buying your words. Even if they don't know you real name, even if there aren't that many of them. Still. Knowing people are reading what you've written, knowing you were able to get published. It is a validation of your effort, but more importantly, it is a validation of what drove you to create in the first place.

Which is what, exactly?

The idea, perhaps, that you could tell a story the way nobody else could. That you knew a story nobody else knew. That you could put words together, the way nobody else could. Again, this is true for all people, but only a certain small percentage, believe this to the point where they sit down and write, and write, and write. Because they believe they have something worth saying, worth writing, and eventually, worth reading.

Now, I mentioned before we use the tools at our disposal to write. What are a writer's tools? Well, words, of course. But let's dig deeper. What is language? Well, language is communication, the fundamental basis for all social creatures and the majority of human interaction. And language allows us not just to communicate through dialogue, but also to simulate other means of communication by appealing to our senses of sight, smell, touch, etc. So, when we create, we are using the tool of language, but for what end, and why? Well, it is my belief that when we are born, we are in large part blank slates (heredity + experience = you), and so, our drive to create is a direct response of our life experiences.

We are driven to create, by our lives, by our world, and by the way in which we respond (given that our responses shape our lives, and our world, it is a neverending cycle.)

Which goes back to the question of validation. What do we want validated by being published and read? Our effort, our drive, but what is our drive? Our drive is our life experiences, who we are, we are looking for validation of THE PERSON who was able to sit down and WRITE this novel, this play, this short story. Validation of his LIFE, and HOW HE RESPONDS.

But again, only very few people are driven to pursue this form of validation via art. Or are they? Perhaps the simple act of living, day to day, is an act of creation, an act of art? Are we not all the writers of our own lives, the artists of our bedrooms?

Still, what makes writers unique, I think, is that they are driven to create in a very specific way. By appealing to language, and through language, reconstructing life itself. What does this say about us? That we are not satisfied with our lives, our worlds as they are, and so must create new ones? Or perhaps the opposite, that in life we see so very much to draw from, so much that we are bursting with it and feel the need to let it all spill into a new world? Maybe a combination of the two.

I was hoping to come to some sort of conclusion at the end of all this rambling, but it appears that I have failed. Ah well.

timewaster
08-25-2010, 02:28 AM
do note you are of course free to disagree, but again, my personal feeling is there is no "artist's brain", just people who would rather believe it in order to feel special. There is no "biologist's brain", "dancer's brain," or "proctologist's brain" either

Actually I believe that a certain amount of rewiring does go on in the brain if you do one kind of thing a lot. You may not begin with a writer's brain but if you write stories for thirty years maybe you end up with one. I am not a scientist but much is made of the plasticity of the brain.

I am not saying that people who write are special in the sense that you seem to think that I mean it merely that a) creative writing is not something everybody does, b) being interested in creative writing doesn't necessarily mean that the things you want to write about are interesting to other people.
I can assure you I regard writing as a job and my attitude to it is pretty practical but not everyone who can write a story can write one that is interesting to a lot of other people. Trust me on this.

timewaster
08-25-2010, 02:39 AM
I don't think that is true. While some deeply esoteric books have found out their niche is rather large, many writers aiming for their version of the mainstream go awry. Sometimes that's bad writing, poor marketing etc sometimes it is just that what interests the writer and for them is universal turns out to strike a chord with few others.


I think anything, written well and with the underpinnings that make it relatable, sells. Books have been written about sanitation workers, astronauts, time travel, magic, tollbooth workers, and taxidermists and all gone on to be successful--what do you have in mind that is less interesting or relatable to the general public than the examples above?

Certainly books have failed, but because they were garbage or because they may have detailed these things right down to mind-numbing minutae, but they failed to tell a story. Telling you exactly how I set my plate reader today to run an experiment and how I loaded my plate of cells may be a niche, and would be boring, but it's also not a story. It's a procedural account. Telling you how I did all this while pining for my dead wife's sister or waiting for the boss to come through announcing a round of cuts does tell a story.[/QUOTE]

I think you are missing the point or you are defining 'story' in a very narrow way. Lots of very good, well written stories that are not garbage sell badly, they don't attract a huge readership, they don't 'speak ' to people, or at least not enough of them.
Some books I think are garbage - in that they don't tell an interesting story and they are horribly written- do speak to people and sell well.
It isn't a question of too much of the wrong kind of detail, or not enough of the right kind of emotion - it is something to do with the way that they tap into something which interests many people. As you point out some quite weird subjects have yielded highly successful books so it is not really the subject.
I think everyone who has written a non best selling book wonders about this. Most of us ask ourselves if we should have written a different story particularly now in this market where publishers are looking for mainstream success more than ever.

Miss Plum
08-25-2010, 02:39 AM
Most people don't feel the urge to write a novel those that do are 'abnormal' by definition, in that respect at least.

Most people don't love statistics, cat breeding, foreign policy, neuroscience, lacemaking, dollmaking, restoring old cars, and dozens more activities and pursuits that people turn into hobbies and professions. My accountant digs tax law like nothing you've ever seen. Artists haven't cornered the market on abnormality, despite the implications of Adams's boast.

KTC
08-25-2010, 02:45 AM
i don't like pigeon-holing the definition of 'artist'...i don't like it at all.


kevin, an artist.

timewaster
08-25-2010, 02:49 AM
I'm not wild about the use of the word 'art' either but I get just as antsy when people talk about the 'craft' of writing and it isn't a science - at least not the way I do it.
I'm not sure the NYT tells you much about the particular ways your own work is missing the mark for commercial success and just copying the last big thing never works. Publishers are regularly wrong about what it is that works in the mainstream so it is a reasonable to wonder what in your own work has reasonable appeal and what turns people off.
Usually what one person loves another person hates, but for some books a huge number of people love that same something. Why? I sure as hell don't know.

timewaster
08-25-2010, 03:31 AM
I never said they were all bookish nerds, on the contrary I think they are all regular folks doing a job that some try to pretend is less regular than it really is. The OP's quote said artists had abnormal brains; I'm thinking they don't have abnormal brains for wanting to write anymore than cops do for being cops.

I know a lot of writers - are they regular folks? God knows what you mean by that. Certainly they are not geniuses and they have kids and mortgages some of them, but let's not forget they spend most of their lives making things up. Many of them were the kids that were bullied in school, or who were not picked first for football. Some of the SF ones are notably 'alternative' and come at life from an odd angle. They are not 'special' in any sense but the mere fact that they want to spend their life making things up, creating an imaginary world makes them odd.
Are cops odd? Maybe. Is the desire to be a cop more or less common than the desire to be a writer? I have no idea and maybe the truth is that you plot any character trait against population and you well get a bell curve. We are all outliers on some parameters.Maybe more people could be cops than could be writers? It is a little difficult to define what is meant by 'abnormal' in this context or indeed what counts as an artist, but to me it makes intuitive sense.
As a teenager I didn't do a lot of teenage stuff because my head was in a book.When I write about teenagers, my own experience is atypical. To sell a lot I have to connect with the bookish and the non bookish. I don't know as much about what it feels like to be non bookish - I have to make that up. All writers do, the very uniqueness of each of us makes it less than certain that we will be able to connect to everyone else. People are really not all the same.

There is no "abnormal writing brain", IMHO that is just a lot of self-serving bullshit
I don't know that it is particularly self serving 'Abnormal' is at least as negative as it is positive.

Libbie
08-25-2010, 03:39 AM
I'm so glad you posted this quote, RemusShepherd. It's SO true. I come from a family of artists (most of them are visual artists -- painters, in most cases) and I grew up observing the weird world of art-as-business. You DO have to think of it as a product if you want to make a career of it.

It's perfectly valid to keep it as self-expression only, of course, but for most artists, that doesn't lead to a viable career. As long as one is aware of that fact, one should be okay. :)

KTC
08-25-2010, 03:48 AM
It's perfectly valid to keep it as self-expression only, of course, but for most artists, that doesn't lead to a viable career. As long as one is aware of that fact, one should be okay. :)

yes...and there are a great number of artists who purposely do not seek out artistry as a viable career, yet are still passionate about art. myself among them.

kuwisdelu
08-25-2010, 04:06 AM
yes...and there are a great number of artists who purposely do not seek out artistry as a viable career, yet are still passionate about art. myself among them.

Here too.

I do write for publication. I always try to improve and make my stuff the best I can be. But I write for people like me first and foremost. If there aren't that many out there... oh well. That's why I'm getting an MS in something else that pays the bills.

Polenth
08-25-2010, 07:08 AM
There isn't a one true brain type for writing. Many writers have entirely normal brain chemistry (having a quirky interest does not mean there's anything unusual about the brain chemistry). Some don't, but not all in the same way as each other. My issues (as far as they impact writing) are mainly centred around difficulties with language. It makes writing harder for me, rather than easier.

But for what it's worth, the way I dealt with it was entirely normal. I read a lot of books and practised writing.

The impression I've got from your other threads is you have difficulty understanding and acting on critiques. So even when problem areas are pointed out, you can't see them. You might find it helpful to analyse other critique threads (where the work being critiqued isn't yours), to see how the critiques relate to the piece.

RemusShepherd
08-25-2010, 09:03 AM
I think anything, written well and with the underpinnings that make it relatable, sells. Books have been written about sanitation workers, astronauts, time travel, magic, tollbooth workers, and taxidermists and all gone on to be successful--what do you have in mind that is less interesting or relatable to the general public than the examples above?

Emphasis mine. It's not a matter of the topic one writes about. It's a question of what relates to people in the mainstream. The concepts that the artist relates to may not be the same as what triggers the readers.

I think music is the best analogy. Someone who is tone deaf might play a song that sounds great to him, but nobody else will appreciate it. That tone deaf musician has to learn to match his perceptions to his audience's. The subject matter of the song he plays has nothing to do with it.

RemusShepherd
08-25-2010, 09:17 AM
There isn't a one true brain type for writing. Many writers have entirely normal brain chemistry (having a quirky interest does not mean there's anything unusual about the brain chemistry).

I don't think Adams was implying that artists have odd brain chemistry. He's saying that creative people are odd, they're unusual in human society, and if for no other reason than that see the world slightly differently than normal people do.

Of course, many of them are just undeniably odd. :)


The impression I've got from your other threads is you have difficulty understanding and acting on critiques. So even when problem areas are pointed out, you can't see them. You might find it helpful to analyse other critique threads (where the work being critiqued isn't yours), to see how the critiques relate to the piece.

Was this directed to me? I don't get much in the way of critique, but when I do I'm grateful as hell and I act on almost all the advice I get. But if you want to talk about that let's take it to private messages. I'm more interested in how people modify their creative process to take in account public taste. It sounds as if most writers read an awful lot, and their reading material influences what they write.

timewaster
08-25-2010, 01:47 PM
Emphasis mine. It's not a matter of the topic one writes about. It's a question of what relates to people in the mainstream. The concepts that the artist relates to may not be the same as what triggers the readers.

I think music is the best analogy. Someone who is tone deaf might play a song that sounds great to him, but nobody else will appreciate it. That tone deaf musician has to learn to match his perceptions to his audience's. The subject matter of the song he plays has nothing to do with it.

Sorry Remus I didn't say that you have attributions in a muddle probably because I always screw up quotes.

Hallen
08-25-2010, 07:17 PM
I think this is a misconception that needs to be corrected. It's not a matter of a story being too far 'out there' that makes it unpalatable. Rather, each person has specific, unique images that appeal to them and may not appeal to others.

Take the example that Scott Adams gave. He had a manager who was lactating, and he put a tiny regulator (as in bureaucrat) in their shirt pocket. That's a visual pun that he found hilarious...but his audience didn't like it.

So it's not being 'out there'. It's being different. It's striking a chord that sounds clear and perfect to you, but sounds out of tune to everyone else.

And yes, as someone with an abnormal brain, I would like to learn how to strike that chord so that everyone likes its sound. I've had enough of being unique, I would like to try being accepted now.

The song, Take the A Train, is a snappy little Jazz piece that just about everybody likes. But, if those same people listen to some pure Jazz, they aren't going to like it. It will sound like a cacophony of notes to them that only resembles music because of the instruments used.

Humor, visual art, music, and writing, are things that are very personal. (I do not understand, nor do I care to understand impressionist art. It's all finger painting to me.)Who is to know what will "strike a chord" with certain people. Some things are universal, other things, like your regulator example, are not (I didn't get it btw). You will know, through experience, what those things are. Some, you'll know are risky, but worth the payoff if they work. Others, you should know are totally out there and only a few will get them. Other stuff, yeah, you know most everybody will get it. So, my opinion is the only way to find out is to do it. I bet most successful stand-up comedians constantly hone their sets based on fan reactions. The first time the do a certain gag probably isn't as funny as the 50th time they do it.

quicklime
08-25-2010, 09:29 PM
Remus,

I guess I'm coming to the conclusion you quoted a guy who was an oddball who happens to write. That's not the same as saying writers are odd, different, or whatever else you like, and I still say writing is like anything else; sure over time you may learn enough about it that it changes you, but there is no mystical "artist's brain" because writing changes you anymore than there is a mystical "cop's brain" or "biologist's brain" because over time those jobs change how you see things.

Writing is a job. Many people, with many skill sets, come to it. I think only a certain type insists on the need to elevate it into something special, and a great many writers simply say it's work, like most anything else.

Theo81
08-26-2010, 03:33 PM
The trouble I always have with these kinds of quotes is it gets very easy for people to begin convincing themselves that they are so "odd", the rest of the world doesn't get them. This can very easily slide into excuses for why they have not achieved whatever they are attempting to achieve.

There's no such thing as normality. As Bo Burnham (that fella with the YouTube songs) says, the average human has one fallopian tube. Normal is taking everybody and finding the point in the middle.

quicklime
08-26-2010, 04:44 PM
The trouble I always have with these kinds of quotes is it gets very easy for people to begin convincing themselves that they are so "odd", the rest of the world doesn't get them. This can very easily slide into excuses for why they have not achieved whatever they are attempting to achieve.

There's no such thing as normality. As Bo Burnham (that fella with the YouTube songs) says, the average human has one fallopian tube. Normal is taking everybody and finding the point in the middle.


lmao...I need to remember that one.

I guess you summed up my feelings; everyone is different and to start to try to classify writers as a "special" different seems like a handy crutch, but the sort of garbage that can actually get in the way of doing well. There's plenty of folks who have used the excuse they're "different" to avoid revisions because the world is too dumb to understand, or to avoid filling pages for a few days, or whatever else--writing is a job, plain and simple. and just like you don't get to be a teacher or surgeon and then go "but I'm special, a delicate flower" and expect special treatment or try to build your own pedestal, you can't, or shouldn't, do it in writing.

I will say, whole-heartedly, writing is not that different than science in that there's 2 types in both fields:

1. The ones who are telling everyone how they're changing the world (coffee-shop artistes and first-year grad students)

2. the ones who actually are changing the world (long-running, successful authors and heads of large labs)

The ones who actually are doing tend to talk a lot more about it just being work, that someone learns to do and hopefully do well. the others waste a lot of effort in trying to convince others it is something bigger or more mysterious, instead of doing the damn job.

timewaster
08-26-2010, 04:55 PM
1. The ones who are telling everyone how they're changing the world (coffee-shop artistes and first-year grad students)

2. the ones who actually are changing the world (long-running, successful authors and heads of large labs)

The ones who actually are doing tend to talk a lot more about it just being work, that someone learns to do and hopefully do well. the others waste a lot of effort in trying to convince others it is something bigger or more mysterious, instead of doing the damn job.[/QUOTE]

I think there's some truth in that but I'm not sure that was the concern of the OP.It isn't easy to find things with broad appeal and the more offbeat your personal interests, or atypical your own personality the more awkward that might be. Many successful writers are quite weird though and they manage it.
I talk most about writing when I'm working oddly enough as I find it helps to get me started. Some elements of writing still feel quite mysterious to me and while I dislike people who sitting around being all artistic all over the place I'm not sure that everyone who wants to talk about 'art' necessarily falls into that category.

Soccer Mom
08-26-2010, 05:39 PM
Considering that Scott Adams is a humorist, I suspect he was being a bit tongue in cheek with his choice of words (abnormal, freak). For those who don't know who he is, Adams draws the comic strip Dilbert. He isn't discussing writing as a high, literary art. When Adams discusses "artists" he means that in the most general term possible.

S.J.
08-26-2010, 10:44 PM
This reminds me of a quote.

Albert Camus: "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal."

I don't think writers are particularly odd, brainwise. I believe that everybody hides some really off-the-wall thoughts in their head - it's just that writers, unlike most others, are faced with the challenge of communicating those thoughts.

Does that make sense?

That's what I think, anyway.

timewaster
08-26-2010, 11:48 PM
[QUOTE=S.J.;5277529]This reminds me of a quote.



I don't think writers are particularly odd, brainwise. I believe that everybody hides some really off-the-wall thoughts in their head - it's just that writers, unlike most others, are faced with the challenge of communicating those thoughts.

Does that make sense?

Not really. How do we know if the non writers don't communicate :/

S.J.
08-27-2010, 12:08 AM
Through my special mind-reading binoculars.

But no, seriously, I have some non-writer friends who share some weird ideas and thoughts with me... I often wish they didn't.