If you like to write stories, you might call yourself a writer. Okay. If you’ve published a piece or two, you might call yourself an author. Someone may refer to you as a wordsmith or teller of tales or story weaver. But since writing is considered an art, why aren’t we using the word artist somewhere in the nomenclature?
We’re often told we paint pictures with words. But let’s not forget, we paint beyond a flat surface or one dimension. We’re super screens, we’re iMax, Cinemark X-D. We’re 3D. We’re car crashes, gun fights, caresses, laughter, banging doors, betrayals. We’re sounds. We’re moods, smells, tactile sensations, taste sensations. We’re characters, their thoughts and actions. We’re relationships, dialogue, emotions. Story telling draws from the entire human condition. Since writing requires all this breadth and depth, how about we call ourselves, well, story artists?
If you think about it, the art world has many designations. Artist, painter, watercolorist, narrative artist. Narrative artist would have been a good choice for a writerly title, except this name is taken already by those who do narrative art. Here’s a definition of the term from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. “Narrative Art tells a story. It uses the power of the visual image to ignite imaginations, evoke emotions, and capture universal cultural truths and aspirations.” Think of the story you see in the picture below.
Now, let’s think about this definition. Writers do this, too, but we “show” and “tell” with words.
The whole “artist” thing grew in my thoughts after reading this Essay by Anthony DeCasper I came across in a recent Glimmer Train bulletin. The essay attracted me for a number of reasons. DeCasper is a graduate of Chico State. My husband was a professor at Chico State, but before DeCasper’s time. DeCasper’s first name is Anthony, as is my husband’s. Although the essay addressed the topic of reading like a writer, DeCasper used the term narrative artist in his introduction, “Well for me, it means always living my life as a writer by seeing and thinking about the world as a narrative artist would.” Good advice.
We hear often about the art of writing. I think it would be nice to include the word artist with what we writers do. I’m simply brainstorming, tossing an idea out there. Any thoughts? I know, I know. What really matters is a good story. What really matters is a story that lingers and resonates with the reader. Wait. How about calling ourselves story artists and, when we’re really good, literary artists? Just sayin’.