So I'm awake but I should be sleeping. There are a few things that have me way too excited to sleep:

#1. I found out that Tori Amos will be at the Greek Theatre on Friday, July 17. August 1, 2003 was the last time I saw Tori perform at the Greek Theatre. (If you live in SoCal but you haven't been to the Greek--you're missing out on one of L.A.'s greatest pleasures.) Music + summer nights + stars = Bliss.

#2. I also found out that I'll get to meet my friend Gord Sellar this summer!!!! I'm insanely excited about this! Given that he's a sci-fi writer up for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, I'll be rolling out the red carpet treatment for my buddy. That means that I've got to take him to see the Avenue of the Stars in Hollywood (because he's a star) and we'll likely dine at uWink (because it's the food of geeks...I mean gods). C'mon, admit it--you miss Atari computers!

#3. I had a late-night conversation with a grad school classmate from Mills College. We talked about writing scenes, plots (and holes), trilogies and inadequacies.

It's this last topic that has me awake late at night writing this post when I should be sleeping. All writers, at some point, feel inadequate. Yet I'm always amused by this quote from William Faulkner:

Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.

As artists, we feel this sense of competition and yet what we truly contend with is ourselves. Each writer knows that she is not writing to her greatest potential. There's a sense of dissatisfaction about everything she writes and I think that this discontent is helpful because:

#1. Only a fool believes she's clever. Now I can't take credit for this one. I've been on an acid ear-trip lately with music by Queens of the Stone Age (I wanna have Josh's babies--please!!!). In other words, you should feel inadequate because there's always someone smarter than you and this person will make you feel like a moron. Rightfully so. This humbles you.

#2. Sometimes we aren't ready to tell the story. A writer wants each novel or short story to be perfect and sometimes your imaginings are intellectually out of reach. This means you need to write a bunch of crappy stories before you're ready to tackle your genius.

#3. Yes, you're a genius. So many people TALK about being a writer but very few are ready to transition that adjective into a verb. If you write, you've answered the higher call. You've acknowledged that you are an imperfect being who desires to transmit the language of the unknown as perfectly as you can, as clearly as you can, as forcefully as you can.

This void that every writer seeks to fill is called The Hollow. If you're feeling inadequate, it's because that emptiness you seek to fill is yours and yours alone to complete. No one can tell your story but YOU. Creation is your skill and it is a talent that only you can fill. You are the key master, the gatekeeper, the god of your own design.

You are a genius and those doubts floating through your mind are simply apparitions in the wind. Stay rooted. Everything else will disappear and you will fill that silence, fill that void with your imaginings only like you can.

Because you are an artist, a genius.

From: [identity profile]

This is genius. Thanks for sharing YOURS!

I tell people there is an inherent schism in being a writer. On the one hand, you secretly know that you suck and that you can't make the words do exactly what you want. On the other hand, you secretly believe that you're the best thing out there; certainly better than 99% of the stuff that actually gets printed! But beneath that, you know that you secretly suck...etc. It never ends.

I think of Rick Reynolds who claimed that he won a stand-up comedian contest because he "sucked just a little bit less than everyone else." I can smile & relate with that feeling!

From: [identity profile]

I just ordered Rick Reynold's audio CD from my local library! Can't wait to pick it up. After reading about him through your link, I'm dying to hear Only the Truth Is Funny.

The truth is that even though we have awful inner critics, we still try, eh? That counts for something! :D

From: [identity profile]


I'm excited too, and still a little bummed to miss the Tori Amos show. Ah well, you sound like you have a plan for my visit forming already.

I also loved the Faulkner quote and the #3 about genius. I sometimes hear some bad writing being read aloud, and I still have to show a little respect because for everyone who is still trying or learning, there are ten people who say they *want* to write but never do.

The funny thing is even when one gets much more comfortable with one's own work, there's still a hunger to be better, to kick ass, to tell the story that blows every mind that encounters it, that remains. You're always looking for how to do it better, how to gain an edge, how to make the angle work harder, and so on.

And as for not being ready to tell a story, again: yeah. I know that one. There are some older stories from grad school I've been retooling, and when I read them, I realize what I should have been told back then: "You're not ready to tell this one, the story is resisting you telling it..." That's what my advisor should have said, instead of just correcting my punctuation. Who would've thought that writing a thesis would be an autodidactic experience? (Rip-off.)

It's telling that I learned more about fiction-writing in six weeks in Seattle than in three years in a grad program. (And it's not just because I was an SF writer in a mainstream program.)

From: [identity profile]

The funny thing is even when one gets much more comfortable with one's own work, there's still a hunger to be better, to kick ass, to tell the story that blows every mind that encounters it, that remains. You're always looking for how to do it better, how to gain an edge, how to make the angle work harder, and so on.

So true! It's like trying to beat your own high score in a computer game. Just when you make a new record, you're in the planning stages to break it the next time you play.

My thesis director in grad school was much more gracious with her time, thankfully. It was my thesis readers who didn't help me see how to improve the work; those professors were too busy with their own writing so when my work passed through to my thesis director, she had a lot to diagnose.

I cringe whenever I think about my grad school thesis. I'm in a better place now, though 5 years from now I'm sure I'll look at what I'm writing now and think otherwise. :-D

From: [identity profile]

gah. i never went to a show at the Greek the 6 years i was in LA. that show should be amazing, though. :)

From: [identity profile]

i can't wait for the concert! her cd comes out tuesday. i actually didn't make it up to the greek until 2003 and I'd been living in l.a. my entire life until then.


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