How Good Art Makes Us Better Artists
Post written by guest writer Emily Hayse.
As I sat in the dark theater on a Friday night, fifty bagpipes blasting forth the theme of House Atreides, I could feel my heart begin to pound. A smile spread across my face. I found, suddenly, that I couldn't stop grinning.
I may not be the biggest Hans Zimmer fan in the world, but he had me hook, line, and sinker that night with those bagpipes.
I was riveted.
When I got home, I had words building up inside me. Words that had not been there before. A desire to write that (while always simmering below the surface for me) was spurred on by that music alone.
Good art begets good art
If Frank Herbert hadn't written Dune, which inspired filmmakers to adapt it, Hans Zimmer wouldn't have written those bagpipes into the score that I sat listening to on that Friday night. And I wouldn't have gone home afterward full of words and characters that my readers will likely read someday. And perhaps, in those words, some creative friend of mine will find inspiration for a book or picture of their own, and they, in turn, will create something that inspires another artist.
And so it goes down the line for all of us, from all of us.
Two of my greatest inspirations have been Rosemary Sutcliff, who was inspired by Rudyard Kipling, and J.R.R. Tolkien, who was inspired by—among many others—the Beowulf poet. Rosemary Sutcliff has inspired generations of historical fiction (and fantasy!) authors, and, well, The Lord of the Rings essentially inspired the entire modern fantasy genre.
Good art builds us as authors
I credit my love of story with the good literature, films, and music my siblings and I were exposed to from an early age. We reenacted Robin Hood a hundred times, we told stories about going west, we traveled the Amazon like Teddy Roosevelt, and we listened to good film scores until we knew every track by heart.
And that certainly hasn't stopped since I've become an author. I seek and consume and savor good art with more relish and understanding than ever before.
Good art will always make you a better artist.
There will inevitably be moments of wishing we could write as beautifully as someone else. Every time I read The Lord of the Rings, The Shining Company, or The Bronze Bow I despair of ever writing something so deft, so perfect, so deeply moving. But that despair drives me to get as close as I can to perfection the next time I write. It makes me better than I would have been without it.
Community encourages good art
This is what I love about the creative community. When we share our art with each other, we only make each other stronger.
Nowadays, I'm always swapping the best books, tracks, and films I've seen with my artist friends. We share what's inspiring us. We share what we are loving at the moment. We share our own art as we create it in snippets, photographs, published works, and on and on. I'm blessed with talented friends whose books inspire me. I've been blessed to inspire some of them.
Just take the Inklings as an example. So many powerful voices and storytellers gathering together, sharing life, ideas, and writings. They built each other up and sharpened each other in a way that would have been impossible alone. Their gatherings and friendships gave us cherished stories that we never would have had if they hadn't been meeting and sharing and pushing each other to new heights.
And we do the same thing. We make each other better artists and stronger storytellers as we share. That's the beauty of a good, healthy artistic community.
So go out there and consume good art. Surround yourself with it. Share it. Write it. Make something beautiful.
Emily Hayse is a lover of log cabins, strong coffee, NASCAR, and the smell of old books. She is the author of several novels and short stories, including Seventh City, winner of the 2020 Realm Makers Book of the Year award. Her writing is fueled by good characters and a lifelong passion for storytelling. When she is not busy turning words into worlds, she can often be found baking, singing, or caring for one of the many dogs and horses in her life. She lives with her family in Michigan. You can connect with her at the following places:
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