Friday, August 15, 2008

The more you fail in private, the less you will fail in public. - Twyla Tharp

My friend Zain and my partner Matt have blogs that log their workouts. I'm stealing their idea.

I've just finished reading Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit and am on a buzzy high from a transformational week. An excellent chat with my agent, who told me to stop sending her bullshit and live up to my potential (in so many words). A new twist on the old story thanks to a brainstorming chat with one of my best girls. Over 10,000 words in two days. Tharp calls this a 'bubble', where everything in life seems to feed into the creative work. It's a nice feeling. And, as Tharp says, "All you can do is accept it with gratitude and try not to screw it up."

Reading The Creative Habit was serendipitous this week. There's a chapter on denial, which my agent touched on: yes, your readers notice when one scene is weaker than the next. Yes, it's your responsibility to fulfill the promise you made when the reader picked up your book, and you must deliver. This also falls in with the chapter on ruts and grooves, and how important it is to be honest with what's not working and fix it from the perspective of one who has failed and wears the scars with pride. So yeah, I've failed in private, more times than I care to admit. And I'm fine with that, because now I'm writing a better book.

Other gems from this book:
"We want our artists to take the mundane materials of our lives, run it through their imaginations, and surprise us."

"Scratch for little ideas. Without the little ideas, there are no big ideas."

"Your creative endeavors can never be thoroughly mapped out ahead of time. You have to allow for the suddenly altered landscape, the change in plan, the accidental spark - and you have to see it as a stroke of luck rather than a disturbance of your perfect scheme. Habitually creative people are, in E. B. White's phrase, 'prepared to be lucky'."

"If it's true that who you are now and who you will be in five years depend on what books you read and which people you meet, then you need to think more aggressively about those you invite into your creative life."

"Art is a vast democracy of habit."

"Without passion, all the skill in the world won't lift you above craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. Combining the two is the essence of the creative life."

Thanks, Twyla, for your words.

Word count: 10,030
Groove: sliding right along
Bubble: intact

1 comment:

Susan Elena said...

Yes, Twyla's quite a woman! I love all those old hippies who changed something about their art form when they were young and are still living by it - the ones who refuse to grow old, gracefully or not, are always the most inspiring and usually the ones you'd love to have a drink with.

PS I've moved to