Necessary Art

In a recent article in Poets and Writers an editor uses the word ‘necessary’ as one of his criteria for choosing a book to publish. He was using it in the sense of originality, or possessing that quality that will increase sales by word-of-mouth, but it is still such a vague, subjective word. Perhaps ‘spark’ is a better word. Or ‘resonance.’ But ‘necessary?’ Every year, during this time, my husband and I pour through seed and plant catalogues, trying to decide what flowers will be needed on our specialty cut flower farm. What colors will turn the most heads? What fragrances? There are some flowers, like the sweat pea, that always evoke a story, a memory. While others inspire and are taken home to be arranged into art, then painted or photographed. Still others that provide comfort or grant forgiveness or just plain bring a smile. It is with great pain that we leave out some beautiful varieties, and it has more to do with money than necessity. It is true there are subjects over-visited in the world of writing, and that some writers have such a magical gift for language they could write 500 pages on rock formations and we would still be awed. But who can truly judge what is necessary? Doesn’t the creation itself make it so?