I realized early on that if I keep posting about my own frustrations and insecurities when it comes to writing, these posts are going to start sounding very similar every month. So I've decided that I'm going to move away from "woe is me" and focus on the motivation and encouragement side of IWSG.
So from now on when the first Wednesday of the month comes around, I'm going to share a motivational quote from someone inspiring. It might not always be from a person in the writing world, but I'm going to make sure I only share words that I feel possess that unique combustible property that makes excellent rocket fuel for writing. Hopefully you'll find the same encouragement in them that I have.
Today's quote comes from one of the most celebrated and influential writers of our time, Ray Bradbury:
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
This quote comes from Bradbury's excellent book Zen in the Art of Writing. I'm not going to go into the context of the quote in the book itself, just what the quote means to me and how I use it to keep my gears moving. Besides, every writer ought to get around to reading Zen at some point, regardless what kind of writing you do. It's page after page of sage-like advice and inspiration.
For me, these words serve as a reminder that you are not your day-to-day. In other words, you are not your day job. You are not your stack of bills, your overdrawn bank account, or your two o' clock dentist appointment. This is starting to sound like a Tyler Durden rant, but the point is that life is filled with things that can distract you from what you really are at the end of the day, what your life is really made of. And those kinds of distractions, for writers, can become deadly poison if you let them.
In my experience, the muse can be very selfish. Even if you show up to your meeting place at the usual time, she probably won't be feeling very cooperative if you show up with baggage in hand. But that doesn't mean you need to square away your problems before sitting down to write. Instead of trying to unpack all that baggage before you get to work, just set it down and let the muse do it for you. Before you know it, you'll be sitting down at that desk every night like a drunk on a barstool, looking to forget your troubles. And the best part is that you won't wake to a hangover the next day--you'll have a new story, or a nice chunk of that novel completed.
In my first IWSG post, I talked a bit about the desperation I feel when I have to trudge into the job I hate. Bradbury's quote reminds me that the source of--and solution to--that desperation is waiting at home, at the writing desk. When I'm sitting here with hammer in hand, forging galaxies and populating worlds, I forget all of that other stuff. If I didn't have writing, reality might have destroyed me long ago. In one way or another, I've been drunk on it for years.
So the next time you start to feel life clinging at you, threatening to pull you apart like Despenser the Younger, don't give in to woe and despair. Just get a little drunk.
Edited to Add:
|Photo by Alan Light|
I wrote this entry around midnight Tuesday night, and it got me thinking about how influential Ray Bradbury has been in my growth as a writer. Along with a few other greats, his work instilled a love for science fiction (and great fiction in general) from early childhood. When I decided to start using inspirational quotes for my IWSG entries, I knew his would be the first I'd use.
Then today, I woke (in the afternoon, due to my vampiric work schedule) to find that news broke this morning of his passing. I'm blown away. When I was writing this entry, I even did some shopping to find some of his collected works that I don't have anymore, and when I was checking his bibliography on wikipedia, I remember seeing how old he was and remarking to myself that it was good he was still with us. Now, we come to find out that he no longer is. What a loss. We'll miss you, Ray.
August 22, 1920 - June 5, 2012