Advice From Paul Lisicky

It’s not news that many of us come to writing from other art forms–painting, music, dance, acting. How might we use what we know from that field in our writing? Is there a way to think about the line in relationship to a singer’s phrasing? Or, how might a song’s harmonic shifts give us structural permission? Language, in all its elusiveness, seems to insist on a figurative lens.

Then there’s the obvious, of course–read more, read better, resist that urge to dismiss the unfamiliar too quickly.

Paul Lisicky is the author of Lawnboy and Famous Builder. He’s taught at Rutgers University – Newark, Cornell, Sarah Lawrence, Antioch-Los Angeles, Bread Loaf, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where he serves on the Writing Committee.


4 responses to “Advice From Paul Lisicky

  1. How interesting. The relationships in the arts IS totally about process and creativity–that elusiveness Paul mentions. Coming from a painting background, I think “language’s insistence as a figurative lens” is about medium and technique, similar to dealing with oil paints and color theory in painting. How other arts help writing is in what’s behind the line, the medium of our art. At the Arshile Gorky retrospective at the Philly Art Museum recently, I saw how his abstract shapes and textures yielded meaning, emotion and content and opened my mind to new possibilities about words’ relationships to each other, how their sound, shape and color, add content while also telling a story. Whenever I see art while I’m working on a thorny section in writing, I find answers in those elusive relationships between art and viewer, between vision and response that I experience in the gallery.

    Music I think has a closer relationship to writing because its nature and technique are about as “rigid” as writing–it is linear in form and time, and it is dependent on structure to make sense. And so its gifts to writing can coalesce easily into inspiration about the right word, the perfectly pitched phrase, the forward thrust. Some writers listen to music when they write. I usually cannot, and I wonder for those who can, how does what’s playing influence the writing?

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  3. i came to writing first but want to understand other art forms better. i see that developing in my own writing 😉

  4. Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any solutions to protect against hackers?

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