“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” – Ray Bradbury
I’ve read this Bradbury quote before, and it made me smile but didn’t resonate at the time. Now it reads differently. Now I’m deep in it and looking at the wrestling match with the Creative Muse with both dread and delight. Now I’m scheming where I might insert travel and more writing into my days. Now I look at dusty books that have long occupied space on my shelves mocking me for not getting to them, and knowing they hold secrets I’ll never know until I earn them.
I happen to be slogging through a couple of books that bore me to tears, but now and then drop a wisdom nugget into my shaking hands. Why read two dull books at once? When I grow frustrated with one I turn back to the other, then back again, until some moment when I finish both. My reward will be reading some page-turner fiction that I may finish on one cross-country flight.
The mission is to make your own writing interesting. To not create one of those dull slogs you get through before you reward yourself with the page-turner. If you live with the naive (even reckless) goal of earning a place at the table with the great writers you must do (and publish!) the work, but you must also create something compelling.
And that’s the wrestling match, isn’t it? Anyone can throw up a bunch of words, the trick is to make them swing together to the music in your soul. While there’s time.