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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

ten things that may encourage my growth as an artist

10. The reader is always going to see something I didn't. Conversely, she's always going to not see something I thought I did.
9. Write what I'm willing to learn about.
8. If there isn't any mud, there isn't any story. Honesty is not pretty.
7. Get in, get dirty, and get out.
6. Go ahead and wipe out. A bellyflop stings, but there's no lasting damage, and it's more fun to watch than somebody climbing carefully down the ladder, checking the temperature with her toes.
5. If there's a good answer on either side, it's not much of an argument.
4. If it was easy, it wouldn't be fun.
3. Shakespeare was a hack.
2. Guidelines and rules are only useful until I've internalized them. Then they become techniques--or cages.
1. It's not worth eating unless it's bigger than my head.



Re #8: I was just reading one of the Compleat Enchanter stories - this one was a later continuation but I think it actually was by Sprague de Camp. In it, whenever they have to travel somewhere across the steppes of ancient Russia, it actually takes a realistically long time. And the tribes who don't bathe smell very bad. Harold Shea concludes from this that he's actually in a story that was written close to the time of its setting, as opposed to a legend written a thousand years later when all the realities of life were prettied up.

There may be stories without mud and sweat, is what I'm saying. Just maybe not the sort of stories you write.
I think you can get a pretty good comedy routine out of the slow climb down the ladder, the gingerly checking of the temperature, the timid hovering on the brink &c.--especially if this finally ends of with the face-forward bellyflopping fall into the water.

But one of the secrets of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton is the determined "seriousness" of the enterprise.

If they weren't aware of what they were doing it would be excruciatingly awful instead.

not on purpose, anyway.
No, mostly not*--but there is that application available to those who want to use it.It has to be intentionally done, though--and I have no idea how that would be done in writing.

Genuine craven shrinking is only funny to watch if you like to see people suffer. Mostly, it makes me want to snarl "Either admit you don't think you can do it, or close your eyes and jump, dammit." Doing the former may lead you to figure out why you're not able to do it; doing the latter may not result in a success, qualified or otherwise, but there's the chance to figure out why you weren't doing it well. Dancing on the edge just takes up time and energy that could go someplace else--which is to say I think you're right to go for the bellyflop, if only because it's less deadly than doing the hover, which causes you to lose nerve.

*I say this just because I can't be sure what tool you will someday pull out of the box when the situation demands it. It's a long road from The Sound and the Fury to The Reivers.
Also, as the descendant of far too many Scots, I have trouble understanding why anyone should have trouble with your dry sense of humor. Is there another kind?

Well, I crack me up.

But even in comedy--well, what you're talking about requires the *artist* commit--even as the character does not. If the artist is afraid of making a fool of himself in public? Well, he's gonna.

There's no room in art for caution.
what you're talking about requires the *artist* commit

Yep, sure does. Because if you're not consciously working it, you're wimping--and it goes from laughing with you--at the the character you've created and their situation--to laughing at you because you are pathetic. Or, worse yet, if you're able to take the Jerry Lewis approach that any laugh is a good laugh, they roll their eyes and look elsewhere for entertainment.

Although, when you read William Goldman, there is this 'authorial fear' that I'm starting to pick up on in his work. If you look at the Morganstern device in The Princess Bride, it is essentially a semi-confession of Goldman's own fear that he sucks as a writer.

It's a rather complicated trick where he does commit fully to expressing his fear. So I guess he's committing himself to being afraid of making a fool of himself in public, which gets him into 'committed action' without having to 'not be afraid'. He talks about what happened in Which Lie Did I Tell, which is a wonderfully reassuring book for scaredy-cats like me.
Oh, we're all completely terrified. Don't get me wrong about that.
I adore this. Thank you.
you are welcome.
#1. Squee! Well, so long as you never turn into a serpent, I suppose that'll be okay.
Is honesty never pretty?
You know what? I'm reasonably sure it's not.

It may be beautiful. But pretty involves a lot of concealer.
Oh, there's a new can of worms. How do you define "beautiful" and "pretty," in this context? It sounds as though you're being pretty-- no pun intended-- specific.


1. It's not worth eating unless it's bigger than my head.

Not touching this one with a 10 foot Pole or a 12 Foot Czechoslavakian..........