Monday, December 24, 2012

On writing avoidance - part 4

I think this is probably going to be the last of my posts about writing avoidance, although I'm very much enjoying hearing everyone's thoughts about the prior three posts. One of the other excuses I use to avoid sitting down and writing is the notion that, as Coleridge opined, "I have slit the throat of my own genius." Maybe I wrote a poem I'm so tickled with that I can't imagine writing anything better. (It's happened. The thought, that is, if not the fact.)

I think this sort of thing happens pretty often, really. In fact, I was just reading an article about the movie version of Les Miserables yesterday (can't wait to see it - my sweetheart and I are taking the girls tomorrow afternoon, in fact), in which comments by the director, Tom Hooper were quoted.Tom Hooper's last mo vie was the marvelous production, The King's Speech, an intimate character study of those most private of people, the British royals.
"I just thought: How can I follow this?" Hooper said in a recent interview. "In the end, I thought the best thing to do was just get back to work and to get back on the horse. I felt that the longer I left it, I might get kind of self-conscious or it might become this big thing in my head."
Or consider this, from an interview that J.K. Rowling did with Ian Parker of The New Yorker earlier this fall:
I asked her if publishing the new book made her feel exposed. “I thought I’d feel frightened at this point,” she said. “Not just because it’s been five years, and anything I wrote after Potter—anything—was going to receive a certain degree of attention that is not entirely welcome, if I’m honest. It’s not the place I’m happiest or most comfortable, shall we say. So, for the first few years of writing ‘The Casual Vacancy,’ I kept saying to myself, ‘You’re very lucky. You can pay your bills, you don’t have to publish it.’ And that was a very freeing thought, even though I knew bloody well, in my heart of hearts, that I was going to publish it. I knew that a writer generally writes to be read, unless you’re Salinger.” After all the fretting—“Christ, you’re going to have to go out there again”—she discovered that she was calm. “I think I’ve spent so long with the book—it is what I want it to be,” she said. “You think, Well, I did the best I could where I was with what I had.” She laughed. “Which is a terrible paraphrase of a Theodore Roosevelt quote.”
The thing is, if you take a bit of time to fill the well, or time to sit quietly and wait for the words to come, something new will turn up, and you will find that you haven't, in fact, slit the throat of your own genius. There's always something more to say, whether it's more of the same or something new and unexpected.

And maybe that is what I am handing to you to put under your tree this Christmas (if you celebrate it), or to stash on the corner of your desk - the knowledge that there is more to be said and done. And that, in all likelihood, the best is yet to come. Trite, but true.

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