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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I'm an Expert on being an Amateur.

I've got a followup to that post a few weeks back about why I can enjoy amateurism in performance and visual arts but not in writing... I think it's because there's more room for easy, natural human expression in performance and visual arts. Singing and acting are extentions of normal behavior and communication anyway, and the most unskilled drawings can have their charm, but prose is less suited to "from the hip" expression for anyone who isn't particularly skilled with writing. One of my English professors in college had a slogan: "writing=thinking." That's probably intended more as a statement of an ideal principle than a matter of fact; I have a friend who's as intelligent, thoughtful, lucid and subtle on a bad day as I am on a good day, but his hastily typed non-proofread emails usually seem to be the product of a sweet but subnormal child; his thinking is clear in a way that his writing isn't. When he actually makes the effort to write well his writing does match his thinking; it's a neverending Flowers for Algernon loop with this guy (who is one of my dearest friends and I hope he doesn't read this or he'll whip me.)

Really, I love "artless" singing almost as much as I like artful singing; same goes with acting. You can get a really strong sense of the performer's personality shining through when they aren't skilled enough to craft the expected illusion. Bad prose is usually all the embarrassment with little of the charm.

And for anyone who's keeping track, one of the guests on that NPR show about fanfiction is now a published novelist. I dug up her website, skimmed the sample prose, and though it looked very much not like anything I want to read. Judge for yourself at her website.

Of course I write this knowing full well that I've hardly got a leg to stand on when it comes to carping about less-than-sublime writing. All I can say in my defense is that I regard my blog as an extention of any other means I might use to foist my opinions on the world, rather than as a writing forum; or as Samuel Johnson put it: "You may abuse a tragedy, though you cannot write one. You may scold a carpenter who has made you a bad table, though you cannot make a table. It is not your trade to make tables." And so I hope no one will mistake this blog for an assertion that it is my trade to write any finer than the next fool!

BTW Blogger's spellchecker doesn't include the word "Blog."

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