All writing is art.
My father worked in Production Control for an electronics company. What that meant was that he was primarily responsible for whether the stuff that was made came out right. (Quality Control, where he started out, is about finding what’s wrong when Production Control fails.) No amount of training and oversight can supplant a good written procedure.
He wrote procedures he could send off from his office in Tijuana to techs in Boston and they could be followed blindly without modification.
Over the years I’ve settled into some assumptions about what kinds of writing are harder than others. (I do not warrant this information to be useful. I just hope it’s interesting.)
easiest least hard to most hard:
- Non-fiction: If you know what you’re talking about (history, guitar playing, the use of silicon bronze fasteners in ocean-going wooden vessels) conveying that information is straightforward. Excellent non-fiction takes more effort, but perfectly serviceable non-fiction requires only competence, not genius.
- Novels: Fiction is harder to write, even at a serviceable level. Simulating reality is harder than describing it.
- Short stories: Take the challenges of fiction, and distill them, removing every speck of fluff. Hard to do well.
- Songs: Take the challenge of a short story and make it even shorter. Disallow things like sentences and paragraphs and most punctuation (I defy you to sing punctuation — unless you’re Victor Borge.) Make the lines scan. Make good use of repetition.
- Poetry: Now remove the last remaining crutch: the music. Just the words. No sentences. No real punctuation. No reality. Take some emotions from your limbic system, hope they survive the journey to your prefrontal cortex to be turned into words, send them to someone else’s prefrontal cortex and pray the words get translated into emotions the reader appreciates (forget assuming they’ll be the same emotions as yours; you’re going to be ecstatic if they feel anything but bored disdain.
Brilliant insight? Total nonsense? Absolute mystery?