“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”― Sylvia Plath
Last week, when I needed a little help in my confession to my deep love for summer, I confided in one of my most reliable sources. I knew I had written some words that would help the exploration in the past. I am not one for extra work. I am efficiently lazy. I had written a poetry collection a few years back and had self published the book. I wanted to use a couple of excerpts from the book.
Well, I don’t own a copy of my book. I’m sure if I clicked on the link above, I could probably get one. So, I went next door (yes, next door) and grabbed a copy from my dad’s office. I brought it back to my office and sat in my chair. I opened the pristine copy and a single sip of paper fell out. It was in cursive and it was from my three-year-deceased grandmother. It was a list of typos and criticisms. Her grandson finally published something and she wanted to let me know what she had felt about it.
Now, I know that writing is a process. It is something that you need to do everyday. You need to do it every day to get better. I come from a work shop background. I like getting notes. I like getting criticisms. I want to be better. I want to be the best I can be. I want to be better than every one I know. I want to be better than everyone I don’t know. Readers, tell me what I am doing right and tell me why I suck. I’m as old as Bruce Lee, I can handle it.
My three-year-deceased grandmother’s lost note may have been more than a work shop. But, I learned that feelings are not allowed in work shop. You need to sift through the constructive and harsh criticisms. The last three and one half lines are what struck me peculiar in this particular note, however. I can now answer her questions. Not sure if that will be of much help to her in particular, but if you readers ever had a question, here it is.
Grandma: “All good luck – however to whom do you address these thoughts?”
Mike: Me. These thoughts are mine. Everyone’s thoughts are their own. If it were, in fact, a genuine thought. Sometimes I fabricate the thought. That is hard to believe from a creative writer. Not all thoughts in my fiction or poems is mine. My characters think these things. I write to find a voice to entertain myself and hopefully you.
For instance, I have written several stories with a female voice. I am not a female. Henceforth, they cannot be my thoughts. Those thoughts came from the female lead. I understand that the story and character came from my “personal picture show,” but I do not genuinely or organically have these thoughts. That would be insane. People say that insanity derives from asking a question and hearing a response. So, maybe all writers are insane. After all, we all mostly question our sanity through our stories.
To give you the short answer, I don’t know. This thing is a process.
G: “Certainly not to those who have the $$ to buy your books.”
M: Well….Hmmm…Perhaps that is why I am writing on a free medium today. I don’t sit down to write thinking of how I can get a rich person to buy my work. I sit down to have an outlet, to preach, to confess, to love, to hate, to live, to die, to eat, to drink, to laugh, to learn, to be me, to act, to be sane, to be insane. If someone does not want my work, I am not sure what to say to that.
I can’t force someone to read my work. Yes, I get satisfaction from telling a good story and having people open a discussion about it. I want to be poignant. I want to be known as a good story-teller, with interesting characters and arcs. I want to be a verbal innovator. I have faith in my writing. I have faith that the more I do it and the more that I hone my craft, the better I will be and the more people who will like it.
So, what I am saying, is that I don’t target a particular audience. If you have no money and listen, thank you. If you have money and listen, thank you. If you listen, thank you.
G: “I know I’m 81 and your 26(?) but this stuff is weird.”
M: It warms my heart that you know how old I am. And yes, this stuff is a little weird. I am experimental by nature. I like to experiment in everything I do. I play guitar and I love effects and feedback. Same thing with my writing. I like feedback and effects. As I told you a bit ago, this “stuff” is for anyone lending an ear.
It may also be that I failed on a couple of the poems in here. I wrote many of those when I was very young and very undisciplined. I’m not one that edits a lot of their stuff. I know writers that won’t let you read anything until it has seen four edits. I give people things before I finish them. I like to know what is successful and what is not.
I know it is not a generational gap. Vonnegut was your age and he is the reason I became passionate about writing. Albert Camus had a lot to do with that too. So, obviously it was me. It has to be me that is weird. Sorry about that. My experiment was not successful on that front.
— end of interview
I don’t want self-doubt. I’m sensitive and needy. I want the guts to write about anything. Some of my stories are either untold or have yet to happen in the present. I like to be criticized, but to be called a failure is turn the oven on for Sylvia, line the pockets of Virginia, loading Hemingway’s gun, starting Anne’s car or handing Hunter his gun. I’m not referring to literal suicide, no. The suicide of a wanted career. I need encouragement of family.
I have since received encouragement and I am starting to see some success. I’m glad I read this note now as opposed to when I was compiling and editing my book. That would have definitely thrown me over the ledge. I have the imagination to improvise. As it turns out, I sat down to write a post about family. That did not happen. Thank you Sylvia.
Please to enjoy.