Monday, June 13, 2011

Art & Fear: Acceptance and Approval

Those wise men, David Bayles and Ted Orland, authors of Art& Fear are at it again. This time with words of wisdom on acceptance vs approval.

“The difference between acceptance and approval is subtle, but distinct. Acceptance means having your work counted as the real thing; approval means having your work liked.”

They go on to add:

The Art of Connection
…"Courting approval, even that of peers, puts a dangerous amount of work in the hands of the audience. Worse yet, the audience is seldom in a position to grant (or withhold) approval on the one issue that really counts—namely, whether or not you’re making progress in your work. They’re in a good position to comment on how they’re moved (or challenged or entertained) by the finished product, but have little knowledge or interest in your process.  Audience comes later. The only pure connection is between you and your work.”  (page 47, Art & Fear)

There can be a connection between author and audience—an important one—but the connection to one’s work, where one is that day, in the present moment and the only thing really an artist can count on. But as much as I believe in doing the work and being in the process first and foremost, the desire to be accepted and approved isn’t a condition merely of an artist—it is a human condition. Wrestling with any and all of my humanness, is what I think, and hope, makes me a decent writer. Of course, I can’t let the desire for approval get out of hand, and more than anyone else's approval what fiction writing and the study of craft has taught me is to seek my own approval—not just in my writing choices but in all my decisions.

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