Writerly Wednesday

• From “All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed.” by Silas Dent Zobal…

The title of the essay is a bit… yeah. But the essay itself is great, especially this part:

And here’s the thing: I write about it, over and over again. Every single time that I try, I fail. And finally, almost despite myself, I begin to incorporate the failure into the story. That is, failure becomes part of the mechanism. What else can I do? Maybe if I let my failures begin to dictate my story’s shape — then I can draw a circle around the thing that I have failed to say. Does that make sense to you? Fiction is not about what we can say, it’s about what we can’t. It circles around the subjects that can’t be spoken, and, at best, its form circumscribes the negative space where we imagine the unspeakable to sit. But even this spatial metaphor is a kind of lie that cannot be helped, because the unspeakable cannot sit in a place. There is no place to sit.

• From Scriptnotes, Ep. 36: Writer’s block and other romantic myths (Transcript) – weekly podcast by screenwriters John August (whose blog I read regularly) and Craig Mazin…

I’ve reminded myself before not to aim for perfection. Here’s another reason:

Perfectionism isn’t really perfectionism. You are not perfecting anything. Perfectionism is protectionism. You are protecting yourself, or you are attempting to protect yourself from any sling shot or arrow. Tough. They are coming anyway. They are coming in an unfair way. It’s not fair. Somebody may read it and hate it even though it’s great.

And speaking of John August, I recently saw him in a documentary on Netflix. And speaking of Netflix, I watch a lot of it while I do chores. And because I don’t have enough of an internet presence already, I decided to start a Tumblr about what movies/TV shows I’ve watched and what I think about them. If you enjoy the way I can “analyze” pop culture (like that time I read way more into SATC, Cashmere Mafia, Lipstick Jungle, and Big Shots than anyone probably intended) then feel free to check it out: Me and My Netflix. If not, no worries! It’s a 100% for-fun, dance-like-no-one’s-watching project.

(Man, I have got too many opinions and not enough places to store them.)

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9 Comments

  1. I love everything about this post.

  2. I love the point about perfectionism. No matter how hard you work, some people will not like it, some people will be bored by it, some people will be offended by it. That’s life.

  3. That first quote is pretty awesome. It’s certainly easier when you let your writing fight with you rather than fighting against it.

  4. Thanks for the reminders. But sometimes it’s hard!!

  5. Jon

    Great points. It’s comforting to know the perfectionism we aim for isn’t really perfection, but just our version of it. I mean, who knows what an audience will say, right?

  6. Wow – what a good essay that first link is! Stunning. Thanks for the writerly links!

  7. The editors of Zyzzyva, a great West Coast literary journal, said what they want to see more of is writers taking risks. I think perfectionism can sometimes lead to dull overly crafted prose that’s been edited until there’s no life left in it.

  8. Meghan: I agree. Very good point.

    I thought about this recently when I saw The Avengers and Prometheus in pretty rapid succession. The Avengers was probably more of a “success,” but it was a success relative to _much_ lower ambitions, and there are parts of Prometheus which far beyond anything in the other movie. I think you do have to give credit for the ambition and the willingness to take some risks.

  9. kaye-
    So glad!

    Meghan-
    I love that, and I’m glad it’s something being looked for/valued. The editor of the Kenyon Review said he looks for stories that “surprise and delight,” and I think that would definitely include/imply successful risks.

    Anthony-
    Great example/analogy! (I haven’t seen Prometheus myself yet, but seeing as it stars my Hollywood Boyfriend Michael Fassbender, I’m sure I will. ;P)

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