If first drafts get your dreams on paper, then revisions turn those dreams into art.
Art and commercial success don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Art is creative expression of imaginative vision. Great art gives the reader/listener/viewer an emotional (and sometimes imaginative) experience. Isn’t that the effect you want to have on your reader?
But early drafts usually fall short. We revise for readability, logic, structure, hooks, and flow. But aren’t we also reaching for that lasting emotional impact that will bring the reader back, compel the reader to spread the word, and read the next piece?
My goals for my WIPs are to kidnap the reader’s imagination and emotions, to ignite their imagination, and leave a lasting impact. Is this all that different from the goals of “art”?
I think the final draft – the one where we polish – is the draft most focused on art. This is the draft where word choice, sentence length, and other elements of voice are tweaked to the best of our ability. The final draft is where we aim most carefully for beauty in dialogue and prose.
Can the content – and not just the wrappings – be a work of art as well?
Beautiful brushstrokes on a painting do not move the viewer, it is the entire picture – strokes and subject. A book or poem is the same.
The raw subject must be refined. Take away everything that isn’t essential. Try to show the essence of your subject – make it more real than reality. It is okay that these steps are subjective. Allow your perspective to color your presentation. It is what makes your piece unique.