I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating–good art offers a connection, between the artist and the viewer, between the writer and the reader, or between the performer and the audience. At the end of the day technical skill and novel concepts are nothing if the connection is not there.
So how do we, as makers of art, create connections with our audiences?
By being honest with them. By stripping away all the protective layers that we as human beings gather around ourselves and saying “Here is the crushing grief of losing my cousin to suicide. Here is the irrational joy of dancing in the rain. Here is the dull cloud of depression descending on my solitude.”
Honesty isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes its embarrassing. Sometimes it makes you sob. But we, as makers of art, have a duty to strip ourselves down to the bone. It is the only way we will ever make a connection.
My friend John Coons, recently published the first episode in a web series about the most pivotal romantic relationship of his life. ‘Six Months for Six Weeks’ tells the story of a relationship with an expiration date. The story of two gay men, set against the backdrop of the gay marriage vote in Maine. I’ve known John for ten years or so now, and I recognize truth of what he is showing his audience. More importantly, people who have never met him recognize it too.
It wasn’t easy for him to write those monologues. The song about his mother will break your heart (though that one hasn’t yet been released). But John was willing to strip himself down to raw emotion, to tell his story as only he can tell it.
In ‘Six Months for Six Weeks’ John did what Neil Gaiman urged all writers to do:
“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you are the only you.”
So if you want to create something that touches someone else (And lets be honest, that’s what every maker of art wants) strip yourself down, then sit down, shut up, and write something.