Friday, July 23, 2010

Art Imitates Life

Oscar Wilde said, “Life imitates art more than art imitates life.” I adore Oscar Wilde, I really do. He’s one of my absolute favorites ever since I fell in love with The Importance of Being Ernest when I was in high school. However, I disagree with him on this point. Sacrilege, I know; and yet I do still disagree.

As I have just very publicly disagreed with the genius that is Oscar Wilde, I should probably admit to being the Jodie half of Lydia Dare. I’d never want Tammy to get my hate mail.

I don’t think it matters whether you are writing about an era long ago, one from the future, about characters who have fangs or ones who live quiet, desperate lives. As artists, we take from our life experiences when we create our worlds, characters and stories. We imitate life.

The first villain I wrote was a composite of my two lecherous uncles. I know, I know, it’s one thing to have one lecherous uncle, but two? Apparently, we’re special in that way. Aren’t you jealous? Still, every family has their skeletons, I suppose. And those skeletons are what we, as writers, draw upon when writing a dark character or scene. We imitate life.

Conversely, all those wonderful, special moments that make up our lives and the people who have meant so much to us are the inspiration for various characters and plot points along the way. There is more than one adolescent boy on the pages of my books who reflect different aspects of my son, right on down to his affection for scrawny, stray cats. We imitate life.

On a more serious note, an old friend of mine died not long ago. He was my age, my contemporary in every way. He was the first person I’ve lost who was of my generation. That reality has had a profound effect on me. Ever since I received that heartbreaking phone call, I spent a lot of time reflecting on people I once knew, those who have touched my life in one way or another, even if they are unaware of their impact on me. I can see bits and pieces of them in many different characters, which I might not have even been aware of when I created them. It’s comforting to realize that through my written word, part of them will always live on, at least to my way of thinking.

What is your take on the whole art/life imitation topic? Do you agree with Mr. Wilde that life imitates art? Or do you agree with me?


  1. I'm more with you, Lydia. I mean, yes, I can certainly see Wilde's argument in action, particularly in the modern world. We all remember the 80's, and how all the girls were dressing like Madonna, and all the guys were dressing like Michael Jackson. We've seen how a line from a movie or television show will work itself into the public consciousness. Heck, even a beer commercial created a fad, when everyone started saying "Wha's up???"

    But none of those things lasted all that long, when you come to think of it. But those little bits and pieces of our world that we put into the things we create? They are forever.

  2. If think every artist pulls from life, whether they intend to or not. Poor Oscar, publicly disagreed with by the great Lydia Jodie, lol. Perhaps you should write a kindly artist named Oscar into your next story to make up for it ;)

  3. I agree with you. As a writer, when I'm trying to evoke a certain emotion, it's only natural to think back on the events that made me feel that way. I don't know when--it might be ten years from now-- but I am very certain one of my characters will one day have a very bad hair salon experience right before her major
    public experience. All my writer friends will know where that came. LOL.

  4. LOL, Clarissa. I think of all the horrendous experiences that I thought would make me expire (usually when I was younger, when I didn't have all these coping skills I've accumulated along the way). But now they're great inspiration for the books, even if it's just drawing on the emotional aspect of it.

    I think my heroines are braver than I am, but we share a similar sense of humor, not to mention taste in men. LOL And even though they have bigger boobs, my hair is JUST as awesome as theirs. LOL So I think art and life are entwined, like DNA strands, so it's hard to keep them entirely separate.


  5. Catherine ~ I couldn't agree more. (I know that's a real surprise for those of you who know us.)

    Erin ~ LOL. Are you saying Mr. Wilde should be afraid of me? Hmm. A character named Oscar. I'll have to think about that.

    Clarissa ~ Isn't that the truth? The people who know you best can often tell what your motivation or inspiration was for certain scenes.

    Donna ~ I think my heroines have better hair than I do. I think I may just need a lady's maid. Then I'll always look perfect. :)

  6. OMG, just the THOUGHT of having a lady's maid. *puts back of hand to forehead* Quick -- drag the fainting couch over here. I'm gonna swoon! LOL


  7. I agree with you, Lydia!

    How could the artists create without first experiencing? Divine creativity maybe? LOL

    Oh, the idea of a lady's maid just fills me with delight. I'd love one! I can't do my hair to save my life. The last time I could do my hair and be like "YEah! I look goood!" was when the Jennifer Aniston shag was still in style!LOL