So Special K and I were talking about another friend of ours about his habit of using the word “epic” all the time. We love this guy-- (code name: Bambi Savage) but we do tease him. Because he’s all about the epic-ness of things. He really believes it. He really goes with it. He’s sincere in his passion. He talks about love like he’s Daniel Day-Lewis-ing (or I guess, Hawkeye-ing, since Hawkeye is the one with all the passion) his way through life. That’s the only level he accepts. I admire his passion. He would do anything if he believed in it enough. He would go trekking across country or through the woods on a quest. He would write a whole book in a few months, just because it was meant to be written.
That’s what writers should be striving for. Something epic. And sometimes it freezes me. I get so hung up on every sentence I write being completely unforgettable and perfect and amazing that I forget the fundamental first rule of being a writer: ass in chair, write. It’s the only way to get anything done. And it’ll be horrible, of course-- the shitty first drafts, Anne Lamott calls them. Not epic at all. But written down.
At Christmas time, I get distracted by shiny things. Everything is sparkly and lit up and pretty and amazing. It makes me really happy but I can’t focus. The ass doesn’t stay in the chair. It gets up every few minutes to check the mail and turn the lights on and off (I have a thing about turning the lights on the tree on and off. Not blinky-ness, but just plugging them in because they’re so pretty, but then unplugging them because I’m worried about fires and running up the electricity bill, and then back on again when I say screw it, I love the lights, in an endless cycle) and looking online for stuff the kids would like or at funny animals singing Christmas songs. Not chipmunks though. I hate those little squeaky voices. They make me cry. I’m like a cat. Or like that squirrel guy in the movie Over the Hedge. He’s all hyper and he follows the laser pointer because it’s bright and shiny and gets distracted by cookies. That’s me.If you haven't seen the movie, you should. It's epic.
Bambi Savage is kind of my hero, even though I tease him. Because when he’s focused on something, he’s pursuing it with his whole heart. I don’t know if he is thinking it’s epic when he starts. But he’s working toward that. And what reward does he get? We give him a hard time. We give him epic loads of crap. He takes it like a champ.
And that’s the fear. It’s not just a desire to write something epic. It’s the fear that people will laugh and think what we write is dumb. I don't think Bambi Savage is dumb or laugh at his writing, for the record. Just his use of the word epic. I want people to love what I write the way I love it. I like to read book reviews, and if they’re good I want to read the book, and if they’re negative I just feel sorry for the poor writer, who put her heart and soul and blood on the paper and had people call it “mediocre and trite”. Ouch.
|If you haven't read this, do. It's epic. Link to buy.|
All stories, even the epic stories, start out as a first draft. Okay, maybe not The Odyssey. But most stories aren’t epic from the second the writer put pen to paper. They took time. I read somewhere that Hemingway rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms fifty-two times. Wowsa. And I also read that he was plagued by doubts and fears and insecurities and was a recluse and an alcoholic and stuff, too. It makes sense, since he was a writer. His neuroses, like most writers, affected everything.
I’m not much for the motivational quotes. People post stuff on Facebook that they think is profound, little one liners about how you should love yourself first, blah blah blah. They make me giggle because the people are so earnest but really, it’s Facebook. But anyway here’s my writing motivation for the week. One—to write with everything I have, giving my heart and soul to the story. Make it epic. And two, not to get distracted. Not by fear or shiny things. To go, and do.
Written something epic lately? Tell us about it in the comment section below. Or write an epic comment.
Julie Simmons-Wixom is a writer and sometimes a cat. Not to be confused with a crazy cat lady. Email her here if you want more information.