How would you describe a writer? What definition would you give? “Someone who puts thoughts and ideas into words,” perhaps? Or maybe “someone who creates stories” or even “someone who can express themselves through the written word”?
My definition is much more simple: a writer is an artist. Artists use their surroundings, emotions, perceptions and ideas as their material to create their own medium of communication. That medium is their chosen form of art, and through that art, they attempt to communicate their unique and profound perceptions of truth and beauty. This is exactly what writers do. There may be many, many, many forms of writing out there, but there are myriad types and forms of art too – painting, pottery, sculpting, drawing, photography, animation, jewelry making, cinematography, acting, singing… The list goes on. Granted, there will always be disagreements about which forms of writing (and other art forms too, for that matter) actually qualify as art, but my point remains the same: writers are artists.
Some would argue that writing is a lesser form of art than the ones I listed above because pieces like paintings and sculptures are forms of “visual art,” and are therefore universally easier to understand because they lack a language barrier. I would counter that any kind of visual art can be just as hard to understand as a piece of writing that isn’t written in your language. Every piece of art has a profound concept behind it, and it’s the skill and intention of the artist that makes that piece of art easy or hard to understand. Also, other types of art have just as many restrictions as writing does. Pieces of writing can always be translated (even if some of the original meaning can get lost in the translation), but other forms of art have other restrictions that writing doesn’t have – such as being confined to one still image if we’re talking about photography or painting, or being restricted to a certain time frame if we’re talking about cinematography or animation, or even the restriction of one specific pose or shape if we’re talking about sculpting or pottery. All of these restrictions put pressure on the artist, forcing him to refine and clarify his concept before pursuing it in his chosen art form.
I would even go so far as to say that writing might actually be a way of reaching more people than any other form of art. Because no matter what picture you wish to convey in your reader’s mind, it will always look different to every eye that reads it. You want to paint the image of a beautiful woman? She will be beautiful, no matter what details you use to describe her because everyone who reads that description will imagine their own version of beauty. It might not be your version, but you succeeded in communicating what you set out to.
You want to describe a desolate wasteland? An emotion etched into a character’s face? An object of rare beauty and mystical power? Use the best language you can find, translating it from the image fixed in your mind, and if your skill can make the image breathe, you’ve succeeded in your purpose.
Because words are not color; they are the brushes.
Words are not lenses; they are the light by which you see the model.
Words are not the end; they are the means.
Visual artists can only show you one picture, but words can not only show you the whole story, they can become every perspective, conform themselves to every individual’s imagination, and even communicate an ideal in its truest, purest form. Because the idea behind the words is an essence even the blind can understand.
And everybody knows that even the blind can read.