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.
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