Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sometimes Writing Ins't Pretty

The other day I was talking with a group of my friends at dinner about poetry (yes we are all literary geeks).  Two of my friends are in a creative writing class where they are required to write and critique each other's works.  While we were talking about poetry my one friend brought up some of the comments related to her work.  One was especially interesting because it said that the poem started out warm but ended up being cold and unhappy.

Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion about writing and what someone might love I might hate.  However, to say that a piece of writing is too unhappy or cold makes me question what people want from writing.  Sure, poetry can be beautiful, with flowery details of the abstract but it can also be ugly or sad (or both).  Poems let us peek into the soul of the writer.  They allow us to see the hairline cracks in ourselves that make us human and this picture isn't always pretty.

I feel that writing is just like life, sometimes it is beautiful but many times it is ugly.  We have to wonder around in this world looking at everything (unless we are going to be completely ignorant) and finding the meaning in both.  Sometimes the more awful parts of our world teach us the best lessons.  In writing it is the same way.  In every story there is some form of trial or problem that must be resolved by the protagonist.  Many times the journey is difficult and the character overcomes horrible tests of character and/or physical ability.  In the end there is some great lesson to be learned but more importantly it show us that in order to see the beauty we must overcome the ugly.

Sometimes beauty is not all it is cracked up to be.  In my Gothic novel class we often discuss the trope of the sublime.  The best way I can describe the sublime is something that is painfully beautiful.  Personally this sounds incredibly uncomfortable and I cannot say that I have seen many things in my 19 years that are sublime.  I do think that the concept of the sublime definitely undercuts the standard view of beauty.  It demonstrates that sometimes beauty is not feel good, and happy.  It can have razor sharp edges that really should have "caution" signs all around.

In conclusion to this long winded post about beauty I just want to say that perhaps we need to look at the balance between the beautiful and the ugly in writing.  Only then can we really understand the world the author has created.  After all it is part of the human experience to see the beautiful and the ugly.


  1. I wish my 19 year old sister was as articulate, well-spoken and thought-provoking as you. This is a really great post and I completely agree with your comments above. I think without that balance of the beautiful and the ugly life would get ... well a little dull. We really do need both to appreciate the balance and to appreciate each part of a written piece....

  2. Great post. It definitely excludes a certain type of realism if writers only expose what is pretty, comfortable, and happy. Not to mention that kind of writing would be incredibly boring and probably meaningless.

    This actually sheds some light on an essay about Alexander Pope's "The Rape of the Lock" that I'm supposed to be writing... So thanks!

    1. I am glad I was helpful. That is what I hoped for when writing my posts.