Chekhov’s Ashtray

Goose Game series, Suzanne Edminster

Goose Game series, Suzanne Edminster

“Always remember the famous story of Anton Chekhov, who, when asked about his compositional method, picked up an ashtray and said, ‘This is my compositional method. Tomorrow I will write a story called ‘The Ashtray.'”

Anton Chekhov, from the book Cartooning by Ivan Brunetti

As a former smoker, ashtrays are fascinating fossils from a past life.  What a great prompt, though: write or create art based on memories of ashtrays.  I love this book by Brunetti, part of my interest in the uncharted land where word meets image.    Why are comics seen as lowbrow? Doesn’t it take twice as much skill to write a graphic novel as a “real” one?  What is so not-fine-art about cartooning? Will an artist who writes, or a writer who arts, inevitably be separated out into “better writer” or “better artist?” Not that I care.  Much.

Sometimes the random is all we need.

cartooning coverI’ve added Cartooning to my short shelf of astonishing books on creativity, applicable to any art form. Here’s the last paragraph.

“Although you have no control over the future, you have control over what your are creating right now, and if what you create is honest, it will be compelling.  Whether or not it is truly good will be decided long after you are dead. But if you hedge your bets, compromise, prevaricate… are are lost.  Something has to be at stake, a part of you has to die and be reborn into your work, if it is to ‘live’ on that sheet of paper, cave wall, or assemblage of pixels.  In the end, all we can do is try our best.  We are none of us perfect.”

Ivan Brunetti

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