Portrait of the Artist as Just an Artist

Should The Cosby Show still be on TV?

Do I have your attention?

What Bill Cosby did to women was despicable. It was wrong on all sorts of levels which is why he went to prison.

But his TV show, the one all about family values….should it be pushed aside to the bins?

Should the thousands of other people who worked on that show be forced to suffer in shame even thought they did nothing wrong?

Do we separate the artist from the art?

I have been struggling with this issue for awhile. There are many books, movies, music and art that I like and appreciate for their intrinsic value. It’s pretty to look at, or complex in its ideas. It makes me think or it inspires me. Is it wrong to look at a work of art and not contemplate who the artist is? Should we just get rid of all that intellectual property because of the person who made it?

So, I have decided to take a stand: I am going to separate art from the artist. I am going to enjoy a piece of work on its own merits. I am not going to look at the background of an artist.

My college book club is really focused on looking at the background of the authors of the books that we read. We spent the first ten minutes of the last book club hearing someone recite the bio of the author…


Can’t a book just be a book?

Shouldn’t a book stand on its own merits without knowing anything about the author? if you’re a scholar this could be very interesting. I understand many a thesis is based on looking into the life of an artist. But for the lay person? Should we need a reason for the art? Shouldn’t the art stand alone?

Does the authors bio really matter?

Does who the artist is really matter?

Should we separate art from the artist?


On a side note: Two of my blog friends wrote very thought provoking pieces yesterday. As they gave me much to think about, I thought that you might enjoy them as well:



Who’s Your Hero?

I was reading a book review from Jessica the other day. She wrote an aside that she realized that she tends to read female protagonists. So  it got me thinking: do I read more male or female leads in books?

I’m going to go into my Nook (no Kindle here…) history for this calendar year and give you a quick count. Take 30 seconds to think about your own habits as  you imagine me counting.

Male- 8

Female- 12

Neither/Both- 8

So it would appear by my standards that I am really all over the place. I have no clear favorite, but really base my interest in a book based on the story itself. Hmmm. I’m actually surprised, because I thought for sure that I would have been leaning totally towards the female protagonist. When Jessica posed the question, my brain was screaming “Female Protagonist. Girl rule boys Drool. Of course I love female leads.” I made an assumption that because I identify as a woman, that my books would identify that as well.


So let’s drill down on the numbers. My favorite book that I read this year was Amor Towles “A Gentleman in Moscow”. I mean, gentleman is in the title, so you know you’re getting a male protagonist. But it didn’t matter. Book was elegant and intelligent and I just loved going page to page reading about the life of this gentleman.

My second favorite book this year was “Daisy Jones and the Six”. I know- woman in the title, but no….the book looks at things from the perspective of different people. So yes- we hear from Daisy, but we also here from other people. There is neither an overriding masculine or feminine tone to this book: it’s just a fun, interesting read where the voices of multiple characters are sharp and clear.

After looking at my list, I do realize that when I just want to be entertained, I almost always go for female leads. There are times when I don’t want to think: I want to sit under a blanket with a mug of tea and read, and these times are female protagonist time. I want to relate on that level, I want a character like me, or like my friends. My binge books lean towards females. I’m going to bet that the majority of my summer list will contain female leads.

What about authors? Male or female? I’m counting…

20 female

7 male

It would appear that I do tend to gravitate towards female authors.

So maybe I like books that are written from the perspective of a woman, no matter what sex their main characters identify as? Maybe women write the types of stories that I want to read? Maybe women write better dialogue and I am a dialogue girl?

Who knows.

But now that the question is out there on the table, you know I’m going to overthink this too. You know I’m going to be looking at the books I read/choose and asking myself the male/female question. Is the sex of the author important when choosing a book? Is the sex of the main character important? Do I choose books based on either criteria?

So now I’m throwing it out to all of you: answer any or all of the questions that I too am pondering. But basically, how does the sex of the author or sex of the main characters affect your reading habits?



January Writing Update

I started another writing class this month, Fiction 2 with Gotham Writers Workshop.  This experience is different than the one I had last semester.  Last semester my teacher was a woman, older than me and a novelist/screenwriter.  This session, my teacher is male, younger than me (I believe he’s 12) and a short story writer.  The biggest difference is not the gender or the age:  it is the writing discipline.  Writing a short story versus a novel is the same, yet different.

Many of my classmates favor very ambiguous stories.  They’re OK with limited, or no plot.  They’re OK with vague descriptions.  They’re OK with no dialogue.  These are things the novel people never want to read/see.  The biggest criticism I get when presenting my novel is the lack of description- I am dialogue heavy, and personally, I don’t care if the kitchen is all black and modern, or yellow and countryesque.  But, readers of novels do.  Readers of short stories don’t.

Should I become a short story writer?

No.  I want to write a longer work.

So we have the first conundrum I face when working on my novel: how do I add description to my work?

Seriously. how do I add description to my work?

My problem appears to be in my first chapter.  OK- I have problems in other chapters as well, but lets begin with the section I’m currently playing with.  I need to introduce my setting, which is a kitchen, and my protagonist and her three best friends.  (on a completely different note- I did learn in this current class that the protagonist and main character do not have to be the same- who knew???)  This is a lot of information in the beginning of the book, and I am having difficulty maintaining my light, fun voice with the task of similes, metaphors, adverbs and adjectives.  I like description to appear in little bits and pieces.  People reading my book do not.  They want a laundry list of how the room looks.  How do I reconcile what the reader wants with how I want to present the story?

Is this the first basic problem with writing?  Writing what you want versus writing what people want to read?  Is this just a variation of chicken/egg?

So, I’ve added a prologue.  I am introducing my protagonist separately.  I’m laying out one of the “problems” before I even get to anything else.  I’m establishing the tone and voice.   I think I’m liking this better, but it is my first rewrite, so….

Which leads me to the following:  my first draft is finished.


Sort of.

To explain, I have the first half of the novel fleshed out.  The second half is just major arcs.  I have to fill in the filler.  Here’s the thing I realized- I want the filler to actually count, so I need to flesh out the filler better in the first half, so that it is more meaningful in the second half.  What, you say.  I didn’t understand this last sentence, how am I going to understand her novel?  I wish I could explain my thought process a little better, but really, how much do you want to get into my brain?

But, I am pleased with the main points of the novel.  I like my two characters- they are funny and smart and damaged, just like we all are.  I only hope that these things are coming across on the page.  I am enjoying the process though.  I look forward to writing.  That is huge for me, the fact that I look forward to writing.   I even think about plot points and dialogue when I am doing other things- my little pink notebook is never far from my side.

In other writing news.  I blogged at least 5 times a week this month.  Yay.  Had so much amazing feedback from comments and generated lots of new blog ideas.  Thank you all for that- you keep me on my toes and keep me thinking.  You are all an inspiration.  My hope is that every now and then I inspire you.

I formed a writing group with two of the women from my first fiction class.  This is the best thing I did.  We meet every three weeks and really do a line by line critique of each others work.  Even if I don’t like their suggestions, it’s making me look at my novel in a different way.  I’m thinking of the overall theme more, because I see how individual word choice effects the general feel of a work.

My next task is to try to find an agent.  Yeah.  Good times.  I don’t know how to even start this process, but my February goal is to start researching the “how”.  You’ll get the report next month.

So there you have it: a summary of my writing for January.  Tune in next month for the latest tale of my writing highs and lows.

Happy writing!!!