I used to think "art for art's sake" was a pretentious little phrase invented to cover the corny work of those with more ambition than talent.
Now, I wonder if it isn't a way of saying, "My personal creative muse invaded my body, sank into my brain, and refused to leave until I did her bidding. This is the result."
Art is subjective, we all know that. Just as we all know that even in a sea of talent, there are those authors, poets, painters, and performers whose talent is so breathtaking, it trancends subjectivity and becomes something - more.
Every artist strives to be "more".
Behind that "more" are unseen hours of perseverance, rough drafts, rejections, and well meaning people giving opinions and advice that erode the confidence and creativity of the artist.
Art is a peculiar thing. It is a dual-natured creature, both intensely personal and shamelessly promiscuous.
It is hard, as an artist, to create, shape, and craft my work and then go through the agony of sharing it with others. I know I am inviting a slew of reactions: from glowing reviews, to bafflement that I have that in me to give, to opinions on what I should really be writing. Most days, I am confident in my craft. Most days, I can gracefully acknowledge that yes, I could write any number of things but right now, this is my art.
Some days I can't.
And yet, I am driven to perfect my craft, to be true to the voice of my characters. To get it right.
I am the only one who can say when I've got it right.
And when I do, I am driven to share it with others. To bask in the praise, listen carefully to the questions, and withstand the rest because it isn't enough for me to create just for myself.
Maybe it isn't art for art's sake. Maybe it's really art for the sake of saying "I am capable of this".