What Is Greatness?

I’m not always sure what makes a work of art great, whether it be a painting, music, dance, poetry, a play, sculpture, novel, or whatever. I do know great is a far cry from poor, mediocre, fair and even good. Great is like, you know, GREAT!
When it is already great and the world acknowledges it, I glom on to it like a shot, just like everybody else. Greatness is very identifiable. I’ve never discovered anything or anyone great, myself, but I am very good at going along with the crowd. I’m in total agreement, you might say. Michelangelo, hip, hip hurrah. Kim Kardashian, I’m not so sure.
Just so you don’t think I’m an ignorant baboon (pass the banana) here’s what I do know. Art falls into two basic categories, creative and interpretative. Mozart created music. Pavarotti sang it. Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, and many well-known actors did the role. Once, Sarah Bernhardt played the part. I don’t know how great she was, but you get the picture. One is the creator and the other the interpreter. You can be one or the other in the Greatness Hall of Fame or maybe, in some rare cases, you can be both. I can’t think of anybody who has worn both hats, but maybe you can. It sounds like a lot of work to me. It’s all I can do to remember where my glasses are.
But let me get back to the meaning of GREATNESS. Maybe if I knew what made something GREAT beforehand, I could sit down and write it. For the record, I’m thinking no. Trying to be GOOD is mind-boggling enough. I’ve been writing for years, if not decades, striving for merely that.
I am devoted to the craft of writing. I study hard, practice hard, write and rewrite, send it to writing buddies for a go-over, edit the miserable thing again and again until I think I will throw up, and then put it away in total disgust. I tackle it several months later, and it’s more of the same. The process is tedious, and time consuming. Remember, too, I’m only shooting for GOOD. Truth be told, I don’t think I would know GREAT if it came up and bit me on the butt.
Speaking of butts, did Michelangelo sweat over David’s backside like that? I mean, did Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni — and there’s a mouthful — walk around that amazing piece of marble, day after day, wondering what he could do to make it better?
Did he invite over a gaggle of fellow pals on their lunch breaks and beg for their opinions? Did he cover Davey Boy with a tarp for a couple of months, go about the business of painting the Sistine Chapel, and return to this wonder munching on a bagel but with a fresher eye, saying,
“What were you thinking, man? That butt needs to be higher!”
Somehow, I don’t think so. There’s something about genius that doesn’t seem to collaborate or brook any self-doubt.
Whoa! Maybe we’ve left greatness and wandered over to genius. That was Michelangelo, for sure, genius.
Here’s another toughie. Was someone like Arthur Ashe a GREAT tennis player or just GOOD? And what about Leonard Bernstein, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Fellini, Einstein, Madame Curie? Were they GREAT? Or like David’s creator, did any of them attain that lofty geni-osity?
Forget about GOOD vs. GREAT, where does greatness stop and genius begin? I have no idea. I only know I’m not any of these. And frankly, it’s a relief. It’s hard enough striving for GOOD.
No wonder martinis were invented. Pass the olives while I contemplate all of this.


In her varied career, Heather has written short stories, novels, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and had two one-act plays well-received in Manhattan. Once she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.
One of her first paying jobs was writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week but promptly came down with the flu. Heather wrote “The Sands of Time” with a raging temperature, and delivered some pretty hot stuff because of it. Her stint at New York City’s No Soap Radio – where she wrote comedic ad copy – helped develop her long-time love affair with comedy.
Her first novel of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Murder is a Family Business, is winner of the Single Titles Reviewers’ Choice Award 2011, and the second, A Wedding to Die For, is an EPIC Best eBook Mystery of the Year finalist 2012. The third, Death Runs in the Family, debuts in May!

Heather’s blog at: http://tinyurl.com/4nensnp

4 responses to “What Is Greatness?”

  1. I love you, dear, and I want the best for you. So, here's what I'm gonna do, girly. Follow our blogs, take anything you desire, and puh-leeze allow me to kiss your adorable feets in the Heavenly Great Beyond, cool? — Actually, because I saw Heaven for a split second, Heaven’s a super-sonic, killer-proposal-relationship IF we pass the test of this finite existence, IF we exceed-the-rules and become the Great Beyond: while faith is certainly justified, the reward of faith is to believe what you don’t see beyond the furthest star. We’ll have a tonOfun for the length and breadth of eternity, lovely girly, where we’ll have a cumulative, effusive euphoria; a BIG-ol, kick-ass, rock-solid, party-hardy for many eons celebrating our resurrection, nekk’n and luuuv’n, drink’n and dancing, full-throttle, mind-blowin, bawl-bustin, virtual reality, baby… on earth? whorizontal taxes – the death of U.S. Upstairs, however, we can fly: like a true, major’s child, we were born 2B wild. God bless you. Love you, doll. See ya SOON.

  2. Good, great? It's all so subjective. My idea of good may garner a great in some folks' opinion. Of course some may believe what I think is great is only mediocre. Wouldn't that be a boring world if we all agreed on what is great all the time??? ( I liked your example of Snooki…LOL) Enjoyed your thoughts.

  3. You know when you are good. You have no way of knowing when you are GREAT. I've read literally thousands of books in my lifetime. A few of them were GREAT. Some were good, and most were okay. a few really sucked.
    I know my work is better than a lot of what I've read, and I think they are good for the most part.
    I probably won't live long enough to learn whether any are considered GREAT, and that's okay. We tend to overuse superlatives these days, and the word great is just one example.
    And, you know, that's just GREAT.