Yes, we’re still on Emerson. So much of what he wrote about is thoughtful, provocative, and full of truth. Case in point:
‘Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.’
This doesn’t just apply to the physical arts – i.e., a painting or a sculpture. That’s ‘obvious’ beauty. Putting words on paper to ‘create’ beauty is totally different. I believe it’s more interpretive than physical art because there are no use of colors, or shapes, or things that prompt a reaction. As a writer, my medium is the English language. It’s much harder to create beauty with that. And, oh, we can create so much ugliness with it, too. We can hurt with it more than physical art can hurt (unless you pick up a bronze sculpture and brain someone over the head with it). Writers can hurt the soul with the ugliness of their art. That cuts the deepest.
When I create my ‘art’, it’s a two-fold process – you want to string words together that gives the reader a sense of what the characters are seeing – where they live, the people around them, the landscape, the temperature, the dog farting by the fire. You get the point. My second objective is to give the characters themselves beauty and life – with physical descriptions, any oddities (in The Gorgon, the heroine stammered), and their thoughts and feelings. I go a step further. Like stage directions, I make my characters move around the room. They pick things up. They sip wine. Sometimes they’re putting on a shoe. They are alive in my mind and in the reader’s mind. These people cough and sneeze and eat. Isn’t that the creation of beauty as well? Therefore, in a sense, I am an artist. I paint mental pictures. I create.
Love of beauty is taste, indeed. The creation of beauty… well, that’s wide-open to anything you want it to be.