Writing as a Reflection

I truly believe that art in its most basic and general form is a window to the soul. The mere act of creating something, even if it is mundane like “creating” a freshly-mowed yard, shows the world something about yourself. This happens outside things that are usually considered the arts; I feel the only requirement for art is some form of creative input. This means creativity is in all walks of life, and you could consider many things art. And these things all say something about the person who created them.

I do think some forms of art are more obvious windows into the artist’s soul while others are more abstract – like a foggy window – that partly reflects upon the one viewing the art. Mowing the yard probably doesn’t reflect too strongly on what sort of person you are even though hints of it are present. Maybe you mow the yard in a messy fashion showing that you’re a messy and scattered person. Maybe you mow in complex geometric patterns? I’d bet your artwork would reflect the same tendencies. The visual arts and music are closer to pure art, and while they do reflect upon the soul, they don’t do it with as much clarity as writing seems to do. Even if they do, they offer much more abstraction that can make the message difficult to see and interpret. Writing seems to get down to the nitty-gritty of the soul, and that is what makes it unique.

Music does say something about the musician, but it has a chance to not be a pure form of expression. A person with only their instrument is likely the most obvious and pure form, and still this has it’s own flaws. Music is universal, but how you put all the elements together can be very subtle, complex, and not immediately obvious to what the musician is thinking or feeling. There is a lot of self-interpretation which by letting the listener’s own soul reflect back through the music can be seen as a strength of the medium. Art can still be good even if it doesn’t directly show anything about the creator of the art and this self-reflection is what makes music great. Music can also suffer from having multiple people making a single piece of artwork be it a song, an album, or whatever. This will naturally dilute the picture of the single musician into a collective, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just different.

The visual arts, by having a single artist create a work (usually), is a bit closer to writing. It still has the abstraction that music does, possibly even more. You can look at a painting or drawing and draw some conclusions about the artist or their interests, but you probably can’t get a complete picture about how their brains operate. Color, texture, composition, and subject matter are complex in how they play together (akin to the complexities of music), and it doesn’t allow for an easy reflection on the artist. You can tell Van Gogh was tortured inside, but as to why you can’t really tell by the works of art alone. Maybe you could tell, but it would take a bit more thought and observation. Art’s strength seems to be in having a single artist do the creating and the visual elements that can be inspected.

Writing is a much more direct reflection on the artist than the previous two I’ve mentioned. Since I’ve started writing I’ve learned a lot about myself. It’s strange because you’d think that a person should know themselves more than anyone else, but by writing I’ve realized there are things subconsciously that I didn’t know existed. I used to draw and to play music, but I never really discovered anything deep within myself. Or if I did, I already had an idea of what existed although it wasn’t very clear and specific. Writing seems to be a totally different beast allowing for intense introspection.

My writing so far seems to have undercurrents to them that tie all of the stories together. It’s interesting how a person can write 5 or 6 stories and during the writing process think, “Wow, I really write about that topic a lot. That’s strange.” It can only be a reflection of what is on the inside. For example, my last story, “A Comfy Sunday,” was about a fly that pissed off the protagonist and led to him destroying his perfect day. What is the theme there? To me, it is how a single thing can completely change your day and your life. You can call it the fly or the person’s anger which he has no control over. That’s the key point: things can happen that affect your life, and other’s lives, and no one has any control over them. A single fly can ruin your day; it’s a sad fact of daily existence although most cases aren’t that dramatic. Incidents that alter your day, and your life, happen thousands of times a day. What if you left for work a minute late and that led to a car accident that paralyzed you? The world is like a giant, complex machine that seems to be a dice-roll to everyone due to it’s complexity. I love exploring the idea of chance, or fate, and how it plays a part in everyone’s lives. I didn’t really know this until I started to write. I also noticed that all of my stories seem to feature alcohol. If that isn’t a huge red-flag warning sign about alcoholism I don’t know what is. It’s shocking to read what you’ve written and to see what you dwell on. It’s like looking in a mirror that shows what on the inside.

I love writing, and as fun as it is creating things with words it’s strange to see how this reflects on the author. I’ve noticed this in other writers and other artists in general. I don’t see how you can write and not subconsciously reflect what is inside your own mind. And if you do, it seems like it would cheapen the writing to an extent, but I’m no expert on it. Or maybe if you can escape from the prison that is your mind you can really blossom as a writer? This seems to exist in other forms of art, although I think it isn’t quite as noticeable as in writing. There are things about music and the visual arts that reflect on the artist, but they seem to be more abstract reflections that are more open to interpretation to others. These are not flaws in the other mediums, just difference that anyone should appreciate. Think of the artists, musicians, and writers you’re a fan of. Think of the ones you personally know. What do their works say about them?