Teresita Fernández's "Untitled(Night Writing)" (2011) on view at Lehmann Maupin, Chrystie Street.

Teresita Fernández’s “Untitled(Night Writing)” (2011) on view at Lehmann Maupin, Chrystie Street. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Writing is art. Don’t forget that. This paragraph, as simple as it is, is more than just words on a page. Each letter sits in its own designated space adjacent to all the others in a format that, put together any other way, would convey a distinct idea separated possibly leagues from the original.

I don’t always have a hard time completing my work. Much of writing, as much as it is an art, comes across in the same way. Newspapers do not break from the mold: intro paragraph to nut graph to quote to supporting information. Magazines know how their stories should fit between the ads.

Bloggers know to stop somewhere around 350 words or else face losing audience attention. What they are not doing—and what I do not do when I find my work as easy—is following the advice [http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/29/teresita-fernandez-commencement-address/||Teresita Fernández provided] to the Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts class of 2013.

Follow that link to Brain Pickings and you will see a breakdown of her keynote address to the graduating students who she urged to push themselves in their art, by taking time to ponder successes and failures, purge old projects to give space for new, and learn the art of forgetting.

It is that last part which struck me as the most pivotal element of her speech—even though it was her opener. She suggested that most people will soon forget their formal lessons only to find their future actions affected mostly by “those details that get into our heads without our knowing exactly how they got there.”

This is life’s way of filtering out what isn’t important. You can always look in a book for details, but your day-to-day actions cannot come from those same pages. As it is with the process of creation: “All of the fumbling and awkward moments you will go through, all of the failed attempts, all of the near misses, all of the spontaneous curiosity will eventually start to steer you in exactly the right direction.”

Following that direction, you will then need to redefine the meaning of success from external to internal. If you continue to push yourself, search for new ideas, and stumble through the creative process, you will be within internal success.

My own part in this collective story is first to publish this post. Then I need to move beyond it and continue with something else. Perhaps all I did today was break the 350 word barrier. Tomorrow I can find the limits of active and passive voice, of sentence length, of repetition, or of vocabulary choice. Like all the artists who exited VCU more than two years ago, it’s all about forgetting and remembering while seeking something new at every turn.

PHOTO CAPTION: The Teresita Fernández “Untitled(Night Writing)” sculpture displayed at Lehmann Maupin, Chrystie Street.

PHOTO SOURCE: Courtesy of Krd lmg. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TF_LM17411_07_Untitled%28Night_Writing%29,2011.jpg