R & R

“Remediation and Resources” is what the title refers to. Credit to Miles for that joke.

I plan on doing either a slam poem or a spoken word piece with musical accompaniment. For the former, I would need some decent video/audio equipment. These kinds of things can be rented from the Music Library, if my memory serves me correctly. Here’s the link: http://www.music.umich.edu/about/facilities/reservations.htm For the latter, I wouldn’t need any extra equipment as I have a guitar and my own DAW programs that I can work with to write and record anything that I may need to.

Yay! Fun things are fun.

The Act of Composition

My roommate and I made two distinct jokes about the same subject this morning (which I will withhold for their somewhat lewd contents!) and I combined them after we had spoken them. I said that I had made a composite joke. He chuckled, and I was pretty proud of my clever comment.

After our little comedy routine, I went into the bathroom to take care of some morning things, and as I sat there I thought: a composite is a combination of two or more things…”composite” sounds like the root of “composition”…duh! That’s why there are composers that compose things that we call compositions! They combine a bunches of disparate things to make meaningful and whole pieces of art.

How had I never made this connection before? I’m a musician, for crying out loud! I should have realized the implications of these words. I’m surrounded by composers of music every day and I play the music of many long-dead ones.

Now I’m feeling very inspired as an artist. I’m moved by the idea that seemingly simple words can share this idea, just as seemingly simple people can work for similar goals. Every musical ensemble that I’ve ever been a part of has been a representation of this very phenomenon.

All of us are responsible, as writers, musicians, painters, sculptors, graphic designers, and so on, for the creation of beautiful works of art. But, we are also responsible for bringing the people of this world together with our work and to strive for peace, love, understanding, and truth.

It is our responsibility to forge this wonderful composition.

 

Okay, Remediation…

…is super difficult. I am having some trouble thinking of what to do for this next installment of our Gateway project.

My original piece was a short essay for English 325 about my childhood exploits with my cousin on the acres of land that his parents owned in South Florida, with an overriding theme of “get out and play!” My repurposed piece shifted the audience from my instructor and peers of that class to a wider and more general audience of college-aged students in the United States, with the aim being to explore and illuminate the phenomenon of technology addiction. It’s a real psychological problem for many people and it is already being treated as a clinical disorder in some countries.

So, my ideas are as follows:

  • Blog post with media attachments, links, etc.
  • Short story of a fictional nature about a young boy who is literally absorbed by his devices, kind of horror-influenced in the vein of Poe’s short stories
  • Educational video about technology addiction along the lines of a TED talk
    • Or a podcast of a similar nature?
  • Song about the woes of our digital world
    • I’m not too keen on this one, since I’ve written a fair amount of songs for a fun, and I have plenty of experience with music as a music major! I’d like to try something new that will challenge me.

Any comments or suggestions would be lovely!

Cheers!

The Stuff of Inspiration

This morning, I woke up slowly. By morning, I mean afternoon – about 12:30pm, actually, because I was up until about 3:30am with my best friend at the University Hospital. He was not there for any sort of personal harm or extreme emergency, but I stayed there with him so that he wouldn’t have to find a ride home on his own. But, this morning I came across an inspiring quote in the book that I decided to start reading. I’m not sure why I decided to start reading this book today, or why I didn’t start it after buying it almost two weeks ago. The book is God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert, the fourth in the epic Dune saga.

I sat on the couch in my apartment’s living room. No lights were on, the blinds were still drawn, and an eerie quiet floated around me. As I flipped open the front cover of the book, my Mr. Coffee K-cup brewer made its usual violent brewing noise from behind me in the kitchen. I got up with a small measure of annoyance, went and added some sugar to the otherwise black liquid, and sat back down with it steaming beside me. My phone also sat next to me; it beeped from a text message and I hit the switch to turn it on silent so that I could read my darn book.

Frank Herbert included a letter to his readers on the first two pages of this installment of the saga. I suppose it also could’ve been included by the publisher or by those who designed this particular printing. In any case, the letter describes his experience writing Dune and the slowly building success that followed its publication and that of the next two novels. The most wonderful quote from this letter, after he discusses the six years of research preceding his writing and the intense planning and interweaving of plot layers that went into it (seriously, read the first book if you can – it’s marvelously complex and engaging), follows:

“Looking back on it, I realize I did the right thing instinctively. You don’t write for the success. That takes part of your attention away from the writing. If you’re really doing it, that’s all you’re doing: writing.”

This quote represents the core of my motivation for writing. I aim to write a few different things oon enough once school winds down and comes to a close this year. My summer is going to be filled with researching and writing, as I aim to produce a few short stories and potentially begin working on a longer novella or novel. These are quite ambitious goals, but when I read quotes like Herbert’s, I am inspired to work toward them.

I think that many of us young writers, and many young artists in general (I’m in the music school, I see this all of the time), become too preoccupied with achieving success. We must focus on the craft itself. We must create what is within our hearts. We must create what is true and beautiful. We cannot worry about whether wide audiences believe our works to be true and beautiful. If our works are created with passion and sincerity, then there will always be people that enjoy what we create. That, I think, is the nature of art and it is certainly the nature of writing.

Another quote sprang to mind just now that I will leave you with. It is from a short interview in The Rolling Stone with Maynard James Keenan, the lead vocalist of the progressive rock band Tool:

“Life is too short not to create something with every breath we draw.”

More Comments for Revision, please!

Hey everyone! Here’s another draft of my “Why I Write” essay. Any comments would be greatly appreciated! Thanks 🙂

Evan Zegiel
Writing 220 – McDaniel
Why I Write

Why I Write

There was no shining authoritative figure who said to me “You’re a writer, Evan.” It would’ve been nice to have somebody bust down the door and bring me a letter confirming that I was, indeed, destined to be a writer. Maybe my mother could be one of those figures. She taught me how to “fluff up” my essays with the first science fair reports I ever wrote. It surely wasn’t my father, he’s a math guy. Neither of my parents tried to persuade me to write. They wanted me to do what I needed to do for school and for me to be good at whatever those things were. In a nutshell, I was coerced into writing by school and my teachers. How, then, could I have developed a liking for it?
I didn’t attempt to read Milton until I was 15. I can guarantee you that I didn’t chuckle at couplets I found amusing for their clever rhyme or vague symbolic implications. I hated Paradise Lost because I couldn’t understand where the Hell the story was going. I also probably wouldn’t have made such a terrible pun as an adolescent. I never looked outside and thought that the concentric rings on the trunk of a palm tree reminded me of a worm’s curling body. I never wanted to describe the imperfect edges of my hand-crafted wooden desk with elegant and refined prose. I wrote because I didn’t have a choice. Is this part of the strategy of schooling? To force kids into doing an array of things in the hopes that everyone will land on something that they like to do? Hmm.
To be completely honest with you, and myself, I wasn’t truly fond of writing until the last year or so because of my disdain for being forced to do it. I actually used to be reprimanded for not describing or explaining enough in my short answer questions on tests in middle school. I never took time as a kid to sit down and try to write a story. I created well-thought-out arguments because I was required to do so. This doesn’t mean that I’ve never been good at writing. I’ve just never really liked it. I read tons of books when I was young. I devoured novels and poetry. I enjoyed English more than other subjects in school. I was praised for writing well and having a strong command over grammar and rhetoric. None of this made me want to write. Maybe it was a precursor to my current desire, though. The giving of praise has an interesting way of guiding people into believing things. Whether this praise was intended to manipulate me or not, I’ll never know. It seems that being required to write well made me want to write well more often, and eventually on my own time.
This has to be the case, and some of you may be able to relate to this. I started to write lyrics for fun at some point in middle school. This was the only form of writing I did for fun and it is definitely a result of my musical background. Peripherally, I started to do this because I knew that I could do it as well as I wrote things for school. I learned how to play the bass guitar a few years after starting my musical career with the tuba, which led to my interest in writing lyrics. I was listening to so much rock and heavy metal music, and rhyming and cool-sounding words were my mental sustenance.
Obviously, I didn’t have much to write about when I was younger. I’m not sure I have all that much more to write about now. Can a twenty-year-old college student say with any certainty why they do anything at all? If it were up to most of us, we would probably elect to sleep during the majority of the day. As a youngster, I couldn’t really write about myself because I didn’t have any reason to do so, or many memories to draw upon as inspiration. My vocabulary was limited, and I had yet to read the classics that would introduce new ideas to my developing mind. I didn’t know that Frankenstein was more than a commercialized horror story. I didn’t know that To Kill a Mockingbird would change the way I understood racism. I never would’ve guessed that Albert Camus’s beautiful prose would resonate with me as an angsty high school senior, and that I would feel my own story being told in through Mersault’s life.
Now I write because I feel more and more like a Stranger. It’s like there is something wrong with my eyes. I used to think that everyone saw the glittering of snowflakes in the sun as tiny fairies flitting and darting around in a ritual dance. Maybe now I write because I never wrote for my own satisfaction as a youngster, because I was made to do it. If only I had the same amount of free time now as I did back then. I’d have a few New York Times bestsellers on the shelves by now.
What follows below is a description of my current feelings toward writing, after so much coercion made me good at and interested in it.
I write to discover the world, to decrypt my emotions, to destroy my preconceived notions about life. These may sound like somewhat lofty aspirations, especially the first and last of the bunch. I think many writers, and many people that do not even consider themselves to be writers, can relate to that second item on the list. But, the act of writing is even more than these for me. I write because I want to see the future through the lens of the past, to challenge Muad’Dib in his prescient superiority. I write because I want to experience the torture of wearing an “A” on my chest without committing the acts that would make me deserve such a punishment. I write because I want to work in a pants factory or as a hot dog vendor and to take frightening Greyhound bus rides from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.
I write because I can do anything, I can be anyone, and I can say anything with some paper and ink. I write because I’m selfish and want to experience these adventures alone. Or, maybe I truly write because I’m vain and narcissistic and want everybody to pay attention to me. I want readers to think I am Paul Atreides, Hester Prynne, or Ignatius J. Reilly. With enough evidence, persuasion, and conviction, I probably could make someone think that I am the living manifestation of one of those characters
I won’t lie to you and tell you that I write because I need to. It’s not some strangely obsessive compulsion. I also won’t tell you that I don’t know why I do it. All the teachers who manipulated me with their praises taught me how to do the same with my writing. Now I write because I want to, and being assigned to do so is no longer a chore.

Who is Listening, and How?

In being asked to consider who I’m talking to, at, and about with my repurposing project, I have discovered that I may being doing all of the above to one group of people. There may be peripheral audiences that are also involved, but after reviewing my own work I think that my audience is being firmly addressed in each of these ways.

I am talking to other members of my generation, this much is clear. I made an effort to address my points directly to people of my own age and social standing. I am inviting them to engage with me on my topic of technological addiction/dependence while providing source material that young adults and college students should be able to understand.

In other ways, I feel like I am talking at my audience. I condemn and blame others of my generation for their dependence on technology. Though I acknowledge my own participation in the same phenomenon, I think that I may need to tone down certain parts of my piece in order to make things seem less threatening. However, the severity of the issue shouldn’t be downplayed or under-emphasized, so I should be wary of trivializing my own argument.

I am talking about my audience by using the source material that I have chosen to use. An audience of older members, therefore, should be able to read what I have written and be able to understand the core of my argument for a reduction  in technological dependency. Those older audience members will not most likely not feel like they are a part of the people that I am talking to or at, though many may feel implicated as they may have children in this group that they have provided them with the devices that I discuss.

It is certainly interesting to consider these questions in relation to a piece’s audience. I will continue to do more of this during my growth as a writer.

I’ll Take Whatever Tone I Please With You

How does perspective change the tone of a piece of writing? How does it frame the question being asked, accusation being made, or argument being developed? I will attempt to answer these questions with the following.

Two paragraphs in the context of my repurposing assignment can be found below. I am planning on taking a recent short essay from my English 325 class and framing it for an audience of people my own age: the “Millennial” generation, if you will. The original essay details my adventuress as a kid on my aunt and uncle’s multi-acre property in South Florida. My cousin and I would play a lot of imagination games back then. The idea being developed in both the original and the repurposed essay is that my generation spends an absurd amount of time in front of a screen of one kind or another, without experiencing the world around it.

Using the first-person voice:

When was the last time you enjoyed a sunset? Made a fort out of branches and twigs? Felt crisp, wooded air in your lungs while walking down a nature trail? Maybe a more relevant question is: when was the last time you saw experienced one of these things through a digital medium? I see you, my fellow Millennials, cooped up in your dorm rooms and glued to your MacBooks. I see you, watching shows on Netflix and browsing Facebook and Twitter. I see you, and I pity you. I’m not unlike you, for I enjoy these things as much as anyone with a love for entertainment and social interaction does, but I pity that you don’t know the joy that is outside your doors. I took a walk today when the wind chill was ungodly. It was only a few miles, and my headphones were blaring “MK Ultra” by Muse at one point during the walk, but at least I saw the sky. I saw the clouds, the mounds of snow by the sidewalks, the cracks in those very sidewalks, the leave-less trees reaching for the blue above them. I realized how much I love the world around me and wondered how many of my peers shared this love or whether they were so absorbed in the alternate version of the world that they never thought to look out the window. I can tell you that the window has much better resolution than a Retina display.

In this paragraph, I can sense an accusatory attitude. Though I acknowledge my own engagement with some of the very same issues that I am condemning, in general I am taking a stance of superiority simply because of the method of direct address that I am using. I don’t mean to come off as extremely as I am here, so I’m not sure if it fits the tone I want to take in regards to this subject. I do know that the intensity of the direct address helps deliver my point with more of a “punch,” which I am inclined to like.

Without “I” or “you:”

The trees, though barren and lifeless this time of year, are beautiful. How can one deny it? They are in their most plain forms, yet many disdain this lack of color. Color is not so important as to determine the relative beauty of an object. An advertisement for a new laptop or plasma screen TV may disagree with such a sentiment. 1080p is the ideal. The maximum resolution possible, that’s the most important thing to a generation of technology addicts. These advances in technology surely aren’t meaningless or worthless, for they have given society many new forms of entertainment and methods of interaction. They have even improved the way that businesses function and how education works. The outdoors haven’t changed in their beauty or detail; why the focus on trying to replicate or reproduce them on a screen?

I find this paragraph to be staler than the first in terms of its delivery. The third-person perspective is difficult to employ when one is trying to drive a point home with vigor, which is what I think this paragraph is chiefly lacking in. My tone is not much different than it was in the first paragraph but it is not enhanced by perspective. It almost seems as if I am calmer in this paragraph. I find this to be much less effective.

Houses on Fire and Argumentative Ideas

So, this blog post is going to start off a little interestingly. I just finished getting rid of some malware on my computer (I have NO idea how it got there in the first place) and I have an audition in about an hour. My mind is not necessarily in an academic or analytic state of mind! Luckily, this kind of frustration tends to make my mind work more quickly and ferociously. This is my current mood:

I’m also listening to some awesome hip-hop by Aesop Rock. If you haven’t heard of him, I’d recommend a quick YouTube search; the guy is a genius.

Anyway, Professor McDaniel asked us to post on the Minor in Writing Blog about an essay that was assigned for class: Rebecca Solnit’s “By the Way, Your Home is on Fire.” The essay argues for divestment in oil companies. She sees this as the most obvious solution to the encroaching problems caused by global warming and carbon emissions. There are a few problems with her argument, as well as with her analogy of a burning home. The most obvious one is that if your house is on fire, you can probably escape the house in one way or another. We can’t exactly escape the Earth. Plus, it’s rather easy to put out a home fire: call the fire department, and they rush over with a hose to douse the flames with. It seems like Solnit’s analogy could work in this context, but divestment in oil companies wouldn’t just “put out the fire.” It would collapse our civilization if it were done all at once. Plus, there are not any monetary considerations when spraying a fire to death with water. Money is a huge part of the equation win regard to climate change efforts, especially since oil companies wield immense power due to wealth.

I think a better analogy would be that of being trapped in quicksand. One does not purposefully step into it, nor did the generations before mine intend to destroy the planet’s climate by burning fossil fuels. Both are accidental occurrences that include some measure of premeditated thought: one steps on the ground with purpose, and one burns fossil fuels in order to operate a machine. It’s obvious that the consequences are severe at some point after the action, but not before it.

In quicksand, one sinks slowly into danger and potentially into death (if the sand if deep enough). It is the same with global warming. The only way to pull oneself out of the danger is to slowly ease out, without any sudden movements. The more quickly one moves in quicksand, the faster one gets sucked into the pit. If we just completely stop using fossil fuels at this very moment, then society collapses.

It often takes teamwork to get out of quicksand in most instances: another person to help you out by way of a rope, stick, or vine. With fossil fuel consumption, it is no different. We cannot make progress by simply cutting off any one group and trying to go it alone. This breeds discontent, which is not conducive to solving any sort of problem. Teamwork is what will make this work.

We’re stuck in quicksand, slowly sinking into our demise. Only by working together with a slow-moving solution can we hope to escape its grasp.

Now, please enjoy some Aesop Rock:

 

The other portion of this assignment was to consider arguing in general.

Are there arguments that are absolutely necessary to have? Of course there are. Arguments over slavery, equal rights, foreign policy, and all manner of politically charged topics are essential to the functioning of societies. If there were nobody willing to have these arguments, the world might be a very grim and unpleasant place.

Are there instances where arguing in itself is a mistake? This is a tough question to answer. I’ve actually recently experienced a situation (literally the past two days) where I’ve had to hold my tongue because if I had reacted the way I wanted to, the whole ordeal would end up worse than where it started. I don’t like to do this, but I think that it answers the question above. Sometimes making an argument is not a good idea; it can hurt feelings, breed distrust, and make enemies out of close friends.

Can both coexist? Certainly. I think that an argument that needs to be made out of necessity can still be a mistake. I find myself thinking about satirical journalism when I consider this question. Satire normally makes inflammatory arguments, which often need to be made, but sometimes the way those arguments are made can cause more problems than intended. If an argument needs to made, but has the potential to anger certain parties, then it is essential to consider the manner in which it is made for fear of the argument being an outright mistake.

 

Comments for Revision?

Hey everyone! I did some revising of my “Why I Write” essay last night after our in-class workshops. I just wanted to post my current draft here in the hopes that some of you may be able to help me further refine things! Any and all commentary is welcome and appreciated. Thanks 🙂

Why I Write

            If this essay seems manipulative, misleading, amusing, sarcastic, and confusing, then I’ve done my job. The job of a writer is always to influence his readers. He gets to choose how and why this influence is executed. So, my initial list of adjectives may tip you off as to what I’m about to do. Or, they may not. Herein lies the joy of writing! I get to try and sway you any which way that I please. Maybe I’ll tell you a story, maybe I’ll present an argument; you won’t know until you read the next few sentences, even the next few paragraphs. It’s fun to manipulate people! Is this the primary aim of all forms of writing? From a certain perspective, it certainly is, if you understand “manipulation” as the handling or controlling of something in order to achieve a specific outcome.

Please excuse me if I sound cynical. I simply understand that you probably don’t want to listen to the charming tale of my childhood. There was no shining authoritative figure who said to me “You’re a writer, Evan.” It would’ve been nice to have somebody bust down the door and bring me a letter confirming that I was, indeed, destined to be a writer. Maybe my mother could be one of those figures. She taught me how to “fluff up” my essays with the first science fair reports I ever wrote. It surely wasn’t my father, he’s a math guy. I am not compelled to write by the harrowing demons of my past, nor out of a desire to change the evil leanings of this cruel world. Maybe my affinity for writing came from my musical background. When I started playing tuba in middle school, I developed a fascination for the manipulation of rhythm and melody, without realizing that it would influence my later desire to write things. I learned how to play the bass guitar a few years later and I became interested in the process of writing lyrics since I was listening to so much rock and heavy metal music. Rhyming and cool-sounding words were my mental sustenance for the majority of my middle- and high-school years. It was only in English class that I was able to relish in the material; the language is literally music to my ears.

To be completely honest with you, and myself, I’ve mostly wrote because my classes required me to. That’s not to say that I never enjoyed it, because I did, but was no young Orwell. I never took time as a kid to sit down and try to write a story. I created well-thought-out arguments because I was required to do so. Yes, I read tons of books when I was young; I devoured novels and poetry. Yes, I enjoyed English more than other subjects in school. Yes, I was praised for writing well and having a strong command over grammar and rhetoric. None of this made me want to write. Maybe it was a precursor to my current desire, though. The giving of praise has an interesting way of guiding people into believing things.

I didn’t attempt to read Milton until I was 15. I can guarantee you that I didn’t chuckle at couplets I found amusing for their clever rhyme or vague implications. I hated Paradise Lost because I couldn’t understand where the Hell the story was going. I also probably wouldn’t have made such a terrible pun as an adolescent. I never looked outside and thought that the concentric rings on the trunk of a palm tree reminded me of a worm’s curling body. I never wanted to describe the the imperfect edges of my hand-crafted wooden desk with elegant and refined prose. I wrote because I didn’t have a choice. I was being manipulated by the very medium through which I and my current peers attempt to manipulate others.

Obviously, I didn’t have much to write about when I was younger. I’m not sure I have all that much more to write about now. Can a twenty-year-old college student answer with any certainty why they do anything at all? If it were up to most of us, we would probably elect to sleep during the majority of the day. As a youngster, I couldn’t really write about myself because I didn’t have any reason to do so, or many memories to draw upon as inspiration. My vocabulary was limited, and I had yet to read the classics that would introduce wholly different worldviews to my developing mind. I didn’t know that Frankenstein was more than a horror story. I didn’t know that To Kill a Mockingbird would change the way I understood racism. I never would’ve guessed that Albert Camus’s beautifully manipulative prose would resonate with me as an angsty high school senior, and that I would feel my own story told in that of Mersault’s.

Maybe now I write because I feel more and more like a Stranger, like there is something wrong with my eyes. I thought everyone saw the glittering of snowflakes in the sun as tiny fairies flitting and darting around in a ritual dance. Maybe now I write because I never wrote for my own satisfaction as a youngster. If only I had the same amount of free time now as I did back then. I’d have a few New York Times bestsellers on the shelves by now.

I write to discover the world, to decrypt my emotions, to destroy my preconceived notions about life. These may sound like somewhat lofty aspirations, especially the first and last of the bunch. I think many writers, and many people that do not even consider themselves to be writers, can relate to that second item on the list. But, the act of writing is even more than these for me. I write because I want to see the future through the lens of the past, to challenge Muad’Dib in his prescient superiority. I write because I want to experience the torture of wearing an “A” on my chest without committing the acts that would make me deserve such a punishment. I write because I want to work in a pants factory or as a hot dog vendor and to take frightening Greyhound bus rides from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. I write because I can do anything, I can be anyone, and I can say anything with some paper and ink. I write because I’m selfish and want to experience these adventures alone. Or maybe I truly write because I’m vain and narcissistic and want everybody to pay attention to me. Maybe I want readers to think I am Paul Atreides, Hester Prynne, or Ignatius J. Reilly. With enough evidence, persuasion, and conviction, I probably could make someone think that I am the living manifestation of one of those characters. It all boils down to the need to manipulate others into thinking what I think, which is the aim of all writers, whether or not they like to admit it. It’s obvious if one invests some thought in the concept. Even the most noble cause’s goal is to persuade people to believe a certain idea. Writing is the core of that persuasion.

I won’t lie to you and tell you that I write because I need to. It’s not some strangely obsessive compulsion. I also won’t tell you that I don’t know why I do it. All the teachers who manipulated me with their praises taught me how to do the same with my writing. Now I write because I want to, even if I have to.

 

I will reward whoever reads this with a lovely .gif of Darth Vader doing the moonwalk:

 

giphy

Artistic Involvement and Writing

Hi everyone! I hope nobody is being completely overwhelmed by the semester so far. I think I’m toeing the line just a bit…

Many of my peers are currently responding to the essays of Orwell and Didion, and are thinking about and drafting their own “Why I Write” pieces. I have been thinking about these quite a bit as well, but I feel the need to share some thoughts on something I was struck by while I was in my Writing 220 Gateway class on Thursday. My instructor, Raymond McDaniel, asked me and my classmates what major we would choose if we were guaranteed a job in that field which paid $100,000 a year. The question itself was certainly quite engaging, but what amazed me was that a large majority of the class answered with performance-based or musically-related majors.

As a music major, I was both extremely excited and incredibly surprised by all of this. It’s phenomenal to know that so many of my classmates have musical and artistic interests. I suppose I shouldn’t be very surprised, seeing as Writing itself is an intrinsically artistic pursuit. What is troubling to me, however, is the fact that most people are scared away by the perceived lack of career stability presented by these majors. I got to thinking about this, and came up with a few ideas:

 

  • Music is seen only as entertainment by a vast majority of the American public. I don’t have any concrete data to back this up, but I see it every day. Music is what often drives parties, formal social gatherings, and study sessions. More people than I’ve ever seen in my life walk around with earbuds (I’m very guilty of this, but I am a music major after all!). Many do not see music as an art, but rather as a medium through which something can be expressed. The point I’m driving at here is that music in today’s Western culture is a celebrity-dominated field, where the “artist” with the best show and the most flash seems to come out on top. Of course, I’m OVERgeneralizing, as there are innumerable subcultures, subgenres, and underground acts all over the place. But, to most people, studying the pure art of music does not seem to be a worthwhile pursuit for society as a whole.
  • Arts in general are framed as being primarily extracurricular. Many people join band, chorus, drama, dance, and take art classes in high school because, aside from the many public schools that require their students to do so, they are looking for an engaging extracurricular activity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, that’s how people like me discover their true loves for the arts and dedicate their lives to them. However, it truly is a shame that we live in a society that seems to increasingly downplay the importance of the arts in our culture. (Again, NO DATA HERE!) Aside from all the studies that have been done that show how being involved in these activities boosts test scores and strengthens the academic prowess of many students, I think that artists shouldn’t have to worry so much about how they will feed themselves. Artists are the heart of culture. How would TV shows exist without actors? A similar question goes for movies, music, architecture, interior design, and so on. The arts are therefore simply vital, and should be considered as viable academic pursuits since they contain elements of academia anyway. They sustain the creativity and health of our culture.
  • One’s writing is directly influenced by one’s creativity and ability to solve problems, both of which are essentials skills for artists. A musician must constantly figure out how to emphasize certain motives in a passage of music (in my case, it’s always trying to figure out where to breathe without disrupting the phrase, yay for playing tuba). A painter must be able to combine colors and shades in order to accurately portray what she is trying to reproduce, or even to reverse the colors entirely and create some new version of what she sees. Actors must be able to creatively manipulate their movements and speech to portray the actions and emotions of people aside from themselves. Nearly every single piece of written material aims to solve some sort of problem, just as these artists aim to do. Novels solve their own conflicts and build messages through those conflicts. Memoirs present personal accounts and often explore difficult issues that are sometimes not even figured out. Academic essays present theses and aim to solve them through the methodical analysis and interpretation of information. It just so happens that many of my classmates have some sort of artistic experience and there are a few who actively cultivate their artistic skills. I’m inclined to believe that their artistic involvement and desire to study those arts makes them better writers.

 

So, the point I’m driving at is that involvement in the arts is so incredibly important to everyone, especially writers. These creative pursuits train our brains to think in inventive ways. They allow us to develop complex skills that inadvertently train our discipline. A writer needs creativity, discipline, and the ability to solve problems. Other majors certainly need these things, but I find it interesting how closely my own experience as a musician has mirrored my new experiences as a writer

Cheers!

Evan