Too often the burden of “genius” is placed on the fragile shoulders of individuals trying desperately to create, to live up to expectations, to outdo their own previous creations, and to essentially justify daring to call themselves artists (or writers, or musicians, etc.) to begin with.
Archive for the ‘Keeping At It’ Category
It’s 2130 on a Saturday night, and I’m alone in my apartment, in front of my laptop.
I can’t shake the feeling that there’s some amazing party, filled with fascinating people, somewhere nearby. Artists and intellectuals and adventurers, all mixing and charging the air with stories. I wasn’t invited.
et’s say you are sitting at your desk, with something to write, and you notice some anxiety, and an urge to go instead to one of your favorite distractions.
And let’s also say you decided to adopt my approach, the Obstacle is the Path.
Since I can’t tell why, for sure, a story was rejected, I keep submitting to places that meet my minimum requirements. When I run out of places, I put the story in a folder that’s labeled ‘stories I still believe in’ and I review it once in a while.
The biggest reason people fail at creating and sticking to new habits is that they don’t keep doing it.
That seems obvious: if you don’t keep doing a habit, it won’t really become a habit. So what’s the solution to this obvious problem? Find a way to keep doing it.
I’ve been meaning to complete this piece for months but, well, you know how it goes: first there was that story that needed something I just couldn’t put my finger on, so I put it aside for a moment and began to do some editing on another piece that was almost ready to go in the hopes diverting my attention momentarily would break something loose…
My family has a strange attitude toward my writing, which I think is almost always the case unless the writer comes from a family of professional creators. (By professional, I mean people who actually make a portion of their incomes from a creative endeavor — writing, art, dance, etc.) When I met my cousins in Debrecen, they told me they’d heard I’d become a famous writer, of fantasy like J.R.R. Tolkien. Of course, I’m not at all a famous writer, and what I write is nothing like Tolkien.
To talk about this, I need to talk about the scariest thing that ever happened to me. Bear with me.
In 1999, I was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike. The car behind me tapped my bumper, sending me fishtailing across several lanes, and under a trailer truck, which sheared the roof off the car.
Graduation season has come and gone, but we’ve seen lots of great commencement speeches around, from Neil Gaiman’s to Aaron Sorkin’s. They made me mildly nostalgic.
…I firmly believe that the joy found at the heart of reading is the same joy found at the heart of writing: it is the joy of discovery.