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On the Value of Art

The other night my husband and I went to a live performance of So You Think You Can Dance, featuring the top ten finalists from last season’s show. I posted on my Facebook page that we were enjoying the evening, and one of the comments I got back was that she’d been to the show and it was “cute.” The word struck me as not only inaccurate, but almost dismissive.

Now, having studied dance in my youth, perhaps I’m more aware than most of what goes into choreographing and rehearsing routines. Beyond the sheer athleticism, each sequence is designed to draw you into the moment and elicit emotion. I sat in sheer awe of the talent and artistry, experiencing love, lust, loss, and humor, all through carefully constructed movements, countless hours spent perfecting.

This got me thinking about the way art has become devalued. It’s a conversation often shared—mostly by artists. Technology is wonderful, but the instant gratification it supplies has done much to distort the concept of creation. Young people are especially vulnerable to this and, unless they’re actively involved in these pursuits, seem to lack the understanding of what goes into producing art, whether literature, music, dance, theater, or film. Thus, the rise of piracy—artists, in too many eyes, should provide their art for free.

Tomorrow, Monday February 2, a filmed version of the stage production of my novel, Crank, becomes available to stream or download, with all proceeds benefitting our nonprofit helping at-risk youth, Ventana Sierra. When we announced the release on social networking sites, some people commented that it should be a “real movie.” Without even seeing it, they used words like “disappointing” and “lame.”

First off, I sincerely believe in many ways the stage is a better form than film for the book. In case anyone here doesn’t realize it, I write novels-in-verse, which rely heavily on poetic devices, and a movie script would likely lose much of the language I spend so many hours creating. I wrote the stage adaptation myself, so was able to maintain the integrity of my words.

Second, it was a small Reno theater company who asked me to write the play and let them perform it. Their resources were limited, so the sets were spare, but this took nothing away from the power of the play because, like in the book, that comes from the characters. And what I must say about this young, local cast is that those actors were simply brilliant. They took a difficult story and gave it heart, and I’m forever grateful for having had the chance to work with them.

And I do mean work. I was involved every step of the way, from the auditions through weeks of rehearsals, and the cast labored hard, something you’ll know without a doubt when you watch the play—and I truly hope you will, because their efforts deserved to be immortalized. The film production itself was not inexpensive, and while the end result isn’t Hollywood, it is professional. And it is art. You will not be disappointed in viewing it. Please, please do.

We are currently looking to take the play to a much bigger stage, perhaps including threads of the Crank sequels, too. I’ll work with that director to build an even broader vision of the book(s). But that might not have happened without this initial step toward bringing this very personal story to a larger audience than one that reads YA literature. And if that leads to Hollywood one day, I’ll stay involved there as well.

Art, in whatever discipline, deserves respect. It’s valuable in ways both obvious and not so. It’s talent. It’s beauty. It’s time, invested in creation. It isn’t just the finished product. It’s what it took to get there. 


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Feb. 26th, 2015 12:40 am (UTC)
Just a question
I know that this has nothing to do with what you wrote, but I posted on a different page a question. I decided to re-post here. Where you the Anonymous person who wrote Go Ask Alice? I saw something the other day and it made me start thinking about who wrote it so I started to do research and the best thing I could come up with was you. Respond if/when you can.

p.s. I just wanted to say that you are my favorite author and I have never had a favorite. I am the kind of person that loves all writers just for trying even if their book is crap, and to find one that is finally my favorite means a lot to me. Thank you for writing as well as you do and continuing to do it after all this time. I am also sorry about all the things that have happened to you, but in turn, it made you a better writer.

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )