Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.
Writing every book, the writer must solve two problems: Can it be done? and, Can I do it? Every book has an intrinsic impossibility, which its writer discovers as soon as his first excitement dwindles.
And I thought it was bad in October of last year when the corrupt Democrats cheated Bernie Sanders of the chance of becoming president. The surprise election of Donald Trump and the ensuing gorging on America by the greediest men on planet Earth makes October look like a stubbed toe by comparison. The world on fire feeling from October was premonitory – Trump’s poised to help kick off WW3 and the military-industrial complex is simply creaming their jeans over it. And this is just the beginning.
But I digress. If writing was hard before, it’s more so now and that’s not just a convenient excuse, it’s my reality. I’m seriously having to try hard to disassociate myself from the goings-on of our madmen-staffed government in an attempt to engage my imagination in the work of writing. That’s not easy when I tend to care about right and wrong and the future world of my kids and grandkids – hell, everyone’s kids and their futures. Seeing the wasted opportunity by those in power is soul-killing. The opportunity to make the entire world a better place – to heal using social and economic policies that actually make sense – is just not on their calendar. I think that’s because kindness, compassion, and humanity is not in their DNA. They are of a breed of animal devoid of such traits. It is not debatable – the proof is in their actions and policies. Yes, that is opinion but its a damn strongly merited one.
I’m writing Starshine and finding it hard to not want to incorporate today’s bizarre takeover of America in the story. It’s like I want to address all this and have justice actually prevail. I want to remedy real life with fiction and yikes, does that set off alarms. I mean, what do people do in real life now? They flip over to Facebook, turn on Netflix, or dive elsewhere into the internet to be entertained. They remedy the ills wrought from facing real life by engaging in fictions or at least things superficial. It actually kind of bothers me to read the news then look at what people are doing/posting on Facebook. The contrast is so harsh and vivid that I instantly think of Facebook as a form of brainwashing and feel resentment at everyone for burying their heads in its sand. Yet, here I am, trying to invent a fictional world, wanting to stick our real life problems in it and have those problems solved… creating a happy-ish ending. How escapist is that?
And that dilemma is just part of the inner landscape that my creative mind paints for me tonight. Off topic? I’m certainly not getting my story written. If this sounds like a rehashed version of October’s post, that’s because it’s the same environment, just amplified. I can’t stand corruption. I believe too strongly in doing the right thing and am tweaked when I see others doing the wrong thing and getting away with it.
So, wish me luck with the disassociation effort – it will be a requirement in actually finishing Starshine.
Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to him from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it’s true of everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace.
Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.
You learn the most from sitting down and doing the work, regularly, patiently, sometimes in hope, sometimes despairingly. When you have something that seems complete, show your work to people you trust to be honest but not malicious. Put it aside for six months and reread it. Expect to be disgusted by your own early work. If writing is your vocation, if you hope that it might be your salvation, push on through the disgust until you find one true sentence, a few words that say more than you expected, something you didn’t know until you set it down.
– NAOMI ALDERMAN