… and very good. It depends on what I’m aiming for at the moment.
Now that I’ve had a chance to digest all the advice and resolutions of various writers and writing coaches, I’ve decided what advice I intend to follow and what advice I will violate.
For starters, a number of well-meaning gurus counsel writers to finish what they’ve started. Only they say it like this: “Finish that manuscript! And eat your broccoli!”
No doubt they mean well. And there are times when you have to buck up and WORK at getting words onto the screen (or paper). But when a project just doesn’t work for you, there comes a time when you have to admit you took a wrong turn. Why keep on working to complete a piece that you know in your gut is a waste of time?
Another way I intend to be bad is to be more open to artistic expressions I once rejected or was afraid to approach. The “bad boys” (and girls!) of literature have something to say, and many of them say it damned well. For example, I just finished Charles Bukowski’s Ham on Rye, and loved it. He’s a writer who, from what I’d read ABOUT him, I just knew I’d despise. Boy, was I wrong. Ham on Rye is honest, gritty, vivid literature.
We all need a little crazy in our lives. In Act V, Scene 1 of my favorite Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus offers these observations about the little spoonful of insanity that makes art come alive:
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
As Hippolyta acknowledges, that interplay of madness and craft can yield “something of great constancy” that is both “strange and admirable.”
But fear not; I only intend to flirt with the dark side, not elope with it. I’ll be good, too, in the coming year — I’ll continue to set writing goals, blog often, and keep myself mentally and physically sharp by getting outdoors more often and exercising. It’s good to have both feet planted on the ground. However, the idea is not to stay planted, but to have a good foundation from which to explore and grow.