Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bold Enough to Fall on Your Face

I want to be a bold writer.  Bold enough to fall on my face.  I'm not there yet.  I worry too much about what other people think.  I play it too safe.  I follow the rules too often - what's marketable, what I hear at conferences and workshops, what's the recommended style or genre.

When I was younger, I knew none of that stuff, and I had a more direct connection to my soul as a writer.  My craft was a mess.  I needed to learn what I've learned.  But I think I had a kind of open-mindedness, a willingness to explore, that I miss.  Of course, I was also so timid as a person that my writing rarely saw the light of day.  I don't miss that one bit.

I'd like to be fearless enough to trust my most outlandish visions and believe that somebody, somewhere, will "get" them, embrace them as I do, and not just think they're weird and confusing.

I've been re-reading Melville's MOBY DICK as preparation for a novel idea I have, and I've decided that Melville writes the way Baz Luhrman directs.  In fairness, I should probably compare Baz to Melville, not the other way around.  After all, Melville was here first.  Regardless, what they have in common is boldness.  Both of them are bold enough to fall on their faces.  They both make these occasionally insane and out of control choices that are sometimes brilliant and sometimes ... ridiculous.  

Melville switches genres, and points of view, willy-nilly as it pleases him.  One moment we're reading straight narrative, and the next he's switched to a stage script.  We're in the head of Ishmael, and then we're omniscient, knowing Ahab's deepest thoughts.  But there's this take-no-prisoner robust quality to the prose that makes you feel alive.  When it flies, it's hearty, intense, Shakespearean.

Baz Luhrman's films have a similar quality.  Baz chooses these super-drenched color palettes.  His settings are at once realistic and hyper-realistic.  His characters veer wildly from caricature to three-dimensional human beings.  He commits fully to his choices.  He throws himself into it.  Sometimes it's bracing and fresh as a dive in a tropical lagoon.  And sometimes it's hopelessly off-base.  But at least he commits.  He doesn't hold back.

I want to write boldly enough to fall on my face.  I'm not there yet.


  1. aMEN, madam! Amen! I've had that fermented-hobbit feeling for awhile myself - like, how am I ever going to write about going to the Lonely Mountain if I never leave the metaphorical house, right? How will we ever do justice to our Big Burning Ideas if we always have one eye on What Other People Will Think?

    Let us do this thing. Let us be bold, vivacious, and unafraid to kiss the floor. Here's to tasting linoleum in 2013!


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