The (He)Art Connection
When I first began writing, I approached the process from my literature background. I did the same when reading books. It’s no surprise to you, I’m sure, that literature majors have a bit of a high-brow opinion of books, and tend to look down on any book that is not a literary classic or a modern genius. I’m not nearly as bad as my former classmates, but still my favorites in Christian fiction tend to have a more literary bent. Books by Athol Dickson and Dale Cramer top my list.
But books by those authors seldom top the lists of others who read Christian fiction. Too often, my favorite reads are ignored by the average reader.
And then there are the popular books that have high rankings on Amazon… I have read so many of these that leave me scratching my head. The characters are poorly developed or the prose is elementary or the plot sits static during the entire middle section of the book. Yet, the average reader loves them.
If you look at the reviews of any book on Amazon, you’ll see that opinions can be all over the place. In my book, Chain of Mercy, most readers rave about the deep characterization, but then I’ll read a review that complains about my undeveloped characters.
To an extent, everyone is right when it comes to art. The ultimate purpose behind any work of art is to make a heart connection. The artist desires to make a connection on a deep level, one that reaches to the heart, but every heart reacts to art differently. Someone might look at a painting that has a black stripe dividing a wall of white and wonder what secrets are hidden in the dark, while others would roll their eyes and claim they could paint that too. The ultimate purpose behind any work of art is to make a heart connection. Click To Tweet The Greatest Showman is a recent movie release that puts the spotlight on P. T. Barnum. It’s a grand musical with big numbers that the majority of movie goers loved. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie received an audience ranking of 90%, yet the reviewer ranking was far lower at 55%. Personally, I LOVED the movie and could see it again and again, but when talking with a a fellow musical lover, she claimed she was underwhelmed by it.
Why the difference?
It all comes down to Heart Connection. For whatever reason, when I leave the theater after watching The Greatest Showman, I feel completely uplifted. I’m humming the music, my toes are still tapping, and I can’t wait to see it again. When I watch this short clip below of Keala Settle singing “This Is Me”, the song reaches deep inside. Every. Single. Time. The music. The lyrics. Keala’s presentation. It all goes straight to my heart.
Yet someone else might watch that clip and remain unaffected.
I could go on and on with examples, but one thing I’ve learned over the years is that art is less about following rules and more about listening to the heart, and every heart reacts differently. Art is less about following rules and more about listening to the heart Click To Tweet The HeArt Connection is a mystery that I don’t believe we can define. And that’s good. Otherwise we might as well have heart-free robots creating art.
So does this mean that as artists we shouldn’t continue to learn about our craft? Absolutely not. We should always strive to improve. But we also need to remember to listen to the part of our imagination that bleeds emotion onto the page: the heart. That emotion won’t be felt by all who read your work—it might only be felt by a small handful—but it’s that small handful that make connecting your heart to your art worthwhile.