Today, I asked the memoir workshop leader for advice on improving my writing. He said, “You are fine. But you have to be more intimate. Even if it’s not in your culture’s mindset!” Then I looked up the meaning of “intimate” on line and it said “to be personal, private.”
This is interesting advice. Especially since I’ve been told many times that I am too direct, hitting the marrow in the bone as it applies to others. Perhaps I am not exposing my own bone marrow enough when I’m writing. And that it might be culturally Asian to avoid revealing one’s emotional depths except INDIRECTLY. I didn’t think I was that Chinese after spending most of my life in this country. But maybe that’s what I learned last week at the workshop: that describing pain indirectly doesn’t hack it.
I wonder if being in a deeper place, describing more detail and feeling to the reader would make my writing more intimate? If that is a prerequisite for “good writing,” or “making writing into art” then I’m not sure that I want to do that.
So, my question then is, what is art? And why does writing have to be art to make a difference? Here’s a definition of art on Wikipedia:
Art can connote a sense of trained ability or mastery of a medium. Art can also simply refer to the developed and efficient use of a language to convey meaning with immediacy and or depth. Art is an act of expressing feelings, thoughts, and observations.
The operative words are “with immediacy and or depth.” That’s where a more intimate look might enter in, I think. More detail, slower pace, not just skirting the pain.