So, brace yourselves, a lot of posts are coming. And stuff.
I found this quote which I really liked. I believe it’s from an interview William Faulkner gave to the Paris Review, if I’m not mistaken. Anyway, it goes like this:
“All of us failed to match our dream of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible. In my opinion, if I could write all my work again, I am convinced that I would do it better, which is the healthiest condition for an artist. That’s why he keeps on working, trying again; he believes each time that this time he will do it, bring it off. Of course he won’t, which is why this condition is healthy.”
This reminded me of something Hemingway said. “For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.”
Okay, enough quotes for today.
In a way, I believe that all artists are possessed by this silly ambition: they want to do something no one else has done before. They want to create something that’s perfect. And they try, again and again, and they always fail. It seems to me that this is what truly motivates us.
We keep on writing because nothing we write is good enough, or at least, as good as we think it should be. Or as good as we think it deserves to be.
No story is ever “finished.” There’s always something to change, to add, to remove.
I know writers who have been “polishing” the same novel for tens of years.
That’s the trouble with being an artist: you have to know when to let go. I simply edit and edit and read and read my story, over and over again, until I feel that the one thing I want most in the world is to publish the damn thing, order a copy, place it in my bookshelf, and never have to read it again.
It’s like an itch you don’t have to scratch, because every time you read your story, you’ll always find something that needs to be changed. And if you feel like your story is perfect, just take a few weeks’ break, then read it again. Suddenly, it won’t feel as good as you previously thought.
You have to get things done, and you have to release them in to the world. Just like making lots and lots of paper planes. Some will fly just for a few seconds, others will instantly plummet to the ground, while other will take off towards the sky. But working on the same story for much longer than it’s healthy is just as bad as starting a hundred different stories and never finishing them.
I used to be afraid to release stuff. I was afraid of what people might think of my stories, I was afraid they weren’t good enough.
Now I don’t give a damn anymore. If people like what I write, great. If they don’t, then that’s the best I can do right now.
You only get better at writing by writing a lot, not by editing the same novel for two decades.
We’ll never write the perfect story. Not me, not you, not the cyber-writers of the future. Nothing’s perfect in this world, so why should our art be any different?
I am actually proud to say I’m an imperfect human publishing imperfect stories in an imperfect world. But I try my best. I want my stories to be perfect, and knowing that I’ll fail only makes me want it more.
You know, tell someone he can fly, he’ll tell you to go to Hell. Tell them they can’t, and they’ll break every bone in their body trying to soar like a bird.