A Bringer of New Things

Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.

The Intricacy of Effective Simplicity

2792f6d7-6a1e-459d-bf36-a1e7560cd5a3I’ve been reflecting lately that in every area of artistic craft, effective simplicity is deceptively difficult to achieve. It takes time and skill to create the kind of simplicity that connects with people.


• Sculptures (like this ancient Greek statue of Venus/Aphrodite [the photo of which I took at the Louvre]), paintings, and other types of visual art require immense skill to pull off a realistic or otherwise resonating kind of simplicity.

• Sometimes songs I hear strike me as brilliantly simple and even obvious—“I could have made that up! Why didn’t I?” But the truth is that the songs I do make up are very far from achieving that same effective simplicity, both in tune and lyric.

• In fashion, elegantly simple pieces that fit well are the domain of high-end, expensive designers. Department store clothes never give that kind of pleasing simplicity. …This is what I realize as I compare my own style to that of my icon, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. (Isn’t she everyone’s icon?)

• The free website templates on WordPress and other platforms are rarely as sleek as the paid ones. It takes serious graphic design skill to create attractive websites (or pages, advertisements, etc.).

• The great stories of literature (A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina, etc.) can sometimes seem simple from our perspective—with straightforward prose that you can actually understand and storylines that you can actually follow, not to mention relate to—compared to the more obscure, poetry-like fiction you see a lot these days (especially in upper-level English classes). But when you compare them to genuinely simpler fiction and especially beginners’ work, you can see that it takes a hidden magic and mastery to achieve widespread, long-lasting resonance with readers.

I am no longer fooled into thinking that creating great fiction (or other types of art) is easy. More than anything else, what I need as I work on my own novel is patience and practice!

Sidenote: another, completely different application of what I’m calling “the intricacy of effective simplicity” is the amount of effort that is required to get a feeling of simplicity in one’s life. Take it from me! I’m still working towards it and laboriously peeling off layers, three-steps-forward-two-steps-back, every day.


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