~by Amanda Smith
“Speak to me until I understand
Why our thinking and creating
Why our efforts of narrating
About the beauty, of the beauty
And why it matters”
~ Sara Groves Why it Matters
As writing weeks go, last week was less than stellar. A month ago I felt particularly brave and sent out a whole barrage of queries. And, typical to the querying process, the rejections started rolling in last week. The high point of this phenomenal writing week was that I didn’t get to spend one single day writing; creating something new; doing the actual thing that fills my cup. And so, by this weekend, I was seriously questioning my career path.
It seems like such a cheek, such a nerve, to take all this time and pour it into this frivolous thing called “writing for children.” It seems like such an audacious luxury to contemplate and feel, and then pour it in story form onto a page. And call it work.
And that’s when I stumbled on this short video by Sara Groves, my favorite singer, song writer, and human rights activist. In the video she refers to artist Makoto Fujimura discussing utility, pragmatism and art. “Utilitarian pragmatism chokes out art, love and beauty,” Fujimura states in his blog post Art, Love and Beauty: An introduction. Sara encourages artists to push against practicality and usefulness. We should make space for contemplation. We need this “extravagant, wasteful, space” in order to create beauty.
Because beauty matters.
Like the band that played while the Titanic sank.
Like Vedran Smailović, the cellist from Sarajevo, who played his cello in ruins during the siege of Sarajevo.
Like Karim Wasfi, conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, who played his cello at the devastation left by a car bomb in Bagdad. “Why do we keep on doing this? Because we appreciate beauty and we want to build, not to destroy,” said Wasfi.
Like Syrian artist Tamman Azzam who superimposed an image of Gustav Klimt's The Kiss on a war torn building in Syria.
Like Jessixa Bagley who provides a channel for recognizing absence in BOATS FOR PAPA. Like Peter Reynolds who inspires and validates creativity in DOT and ISH. Like Jo Knowles who leads readers to better understanding and empathy in SEE YOU AT HARRY’S or PEARL. Like Terry Farish who sheds light on refugees in THE GOOD BRAIDER. Like Miranda Paul who raises environmental awareness in ONE PLASTIC BAG. Like Dan Santat who stirs up imagination in BEEKLE. Like authors such as Tara Lazar and Mo Willems who create frivolous, yet significant, laugh-out-loud fun. Like Brian Floca who steals our breath in LOCOMOTIVE.
That is the beauty to which I want to add.
Those of us who identify as artist; those of us who are thinkers; those of us who sit with an emotion, or an idea until it becomes words, something concrete, something useful:
We add to the beauty.
It is an extravagant luxury.
And it matters.
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