Thursday, May 1, 2003

From the beginning, when as an excited lad of fifteen I began writing my first novel, I’ve also wanted to be a Famous Author who wrote the next Great Novel (or Novella, or what-have-you). I’ve wanted to do what Ray Bradbury did, and William Faulkner did, and…other writers I’ve never read did. I wanted to be the sort of person and write the sort of works that people talk about excitedly.

I’ve since dealt with the implications of striving to be a famous author. I wanted to be a big name, to be recognized by an occasional clerk maybe. That’s a fine dream, but it’s not a particularly noble one. The desire for fame is not a good basis for an entire career. I realized that I should be motivated by something deeper than fame, and that I can be. I moved through it. So, all well and good.

But on Wednesday, I faced that other aspect to my original desire: writing the next Great Novel (or Novella, or what-have-you). I approach every project as though this, finally, may be the Great Novel. This, too, is a fine dream, and it’s a noble one, but…but….

The problem is that it’s unrealistic. Maybe I will write a Great Novel. But when I approach each project with this expectation, and the project turns out to not be a Great Novel, all my interest from the story trickles away like water down a drain, and I abandon it. When my prime motivation for writing is to write a Great Novel, that means that I can’t write an Okay Novel, or even a Good Novel.

So, I’m trying to purge this desire from my mind, at least as an immediate motivation. I can still dream, and I can still pursue that Great Novel (or Novella, or what-have-you), but it won’t be the filter that I apply to every project.

As the song from Fight Club says, “Where you are, you have no idea what the bottom will be like.” I feel like I’ve dipped downwards, towards the cleansing bottom where I am what I am. Maybe this is the bottom; I can’t know. But this is good. I’m eliminating cruft from my approaches to writing. I’m tossing away that filter. Now, hopefully, I can be a better writer, whether I become a great author or not.

Oh, and happy Beltane.

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