Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa once said, “To be an artist means never to avert your eyes.” It’s harder than you’d think. And simultaneously easier.
According to Robert Owen Butler, the great Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa once said, “‘To be an artist means never to avert your eyes.’ To be an artist means never to avert your eyes—this is the absolute essential truth here. You’re going to be, and probably always have been, led to avert your eyes. But turning from that path is what it means to be an artist.”
For my part, I’m continually striving to find the courage to say what I want to say in my own fiction and nonfiction in exactly the way it needs to be said. My goals are to:
- Tell a story filled with beauty and hope, horror and shame, humor and grace, all in the correct proportions — a story that’s real to its very core.
- Tell a story that communicates clearly with the intended audience and does the very thing I want it to do.
Those are my two goals. Always.
Never Avert Your Eyes
When I’m inclined to avert my eyes — when I question whether I should really write what I’m about to write — I ask myself if what I’m writing is solely intended to titillate or shock or, conversely, get a laugh. I ask myself if what I’m writing is essential to the story I am telling.
I thrive on putting words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages on trial for their lives.
If I feel a word, a sentence, a paragraph, or a page is essential, I usually include it. If I feel it’s not organic to the story I’m telling, I usually exclude it. The key word, of course, being “usually.”
More often than not, writing words that are true is an act of bravery and resilience. It’s liberating, even. Every day I try harder. Every day, I get better. If that word, sentence, paragraph, or page belongs and I’m hesitant to include it, I push myself to do the thing I think I cannot do.