Monday, June 24, 2013
on writing and trying
This is a sot of an answer to this post. I found my resolution in the form of a final talk by one of my greatest heroes and mentors, Dan Schwabauer. Now, I have a lot to think about still on the subject, and on other writing-related subjects. Hopefully some of that will flesh out here over the next few weeks and months.
To begin with, I wanted to share my notes. Here are some basic points:
The question is, how do you write when you feel like nothing you come up with is going to be good enough?
We're going about this all wrong--we've allowed the world to completely shape our perspective on writing. The world wants to shape your identity as a person into only the thing you do best. We become human doings, not human beings. We think if we're good at one thing, that is the one thing we ought to do, and we shouldn't waste time on anything else.
As an aspiring renaissance-person, I always bucked at this. It's why I quit writing and switched to math. Math was a challenge. GK Chesterton said that what makes a man is not just his best thing...but also his second best thing...and his third best thing.
Lie: In order for something to be worthwhile, it must be technically good.
Lie: In order to be good, it must be beautiful. Ugly things (true things, sometimes) are bad. This one is especially prevalent in Christian publishing.
Lie: I am qualified to judge the technical merits of something that's only been imagined.
He made the point that nothing we imagine matches up with the finished product. The idea of the project and the actual output of the project are never exactly alike. Sometimes it's better than expected...often it's worse...but if it's not predictable, why do we think we can dismiss an idea that's not been manifested yet?
Creating and analyzing happen separately. Creativity requires risk. Creativity takes faith to put effort into a dream without knowing how it will pan out.
A friend's sort-of-motto is this: There is no such thing as good writing. Only good rewriting. Now, I don't always agree! I find editing very difficult, and my work tends to be a once-off and then some polishing. But it's good to keep in mind.
Being an artist means making the imagined real first...and making it good second. God made every aspect of Creation real before He evaluated it. Did you ever notice this? God created x, y, and z, and then He saw that it was good.
Finally, he reminded us that your writing will help someone (even if that someone is you). Writing, and rewriting, orders the mind, stretches the skills, teaches us love, dedication, humility. I was looking for something to make this fight worth it--and this is exactly what I needed to hear.
PS: having a couch buddy as cute as my puppy definitely helps!