The world of art is routed with sharp peaks whose summits exist for only a moment, and long dark valleys that end at the base of another mountain. Why can’t it be the other way around? Why can’t we live in the clouds for days on end and only have time to dip our toes in the depths? I find the answer to be a simple one.
Because we demand more from ourselves.
Each summit is just a benchmark we’ve set for ourselves. Once we meet it, we ask what’s next. Not all writers seek out these ends, but those that commit themselves to the art know how to drown themselves in the darkest corners of their minds. In so many ways, I see it as my duty to travel those reaches from time to time. I may need a hand to pull me out, but that’s okay. It’s from these corners I find my characters, their motives, and their fears. I give them something to overcome, and it’s often human…all too human.
This entry isn’t going to focus on the darkness. We’ve earned our peaks. I want readers to really allow themselves to get lost in the varying degrees of excitement: from finishing a first draft to publishing a piece born of long nights and strong drinks. You’ve sacrificed a part of yourself to get here. You gave up tickets to a Josh Ritter concert, draped yourself in an afghan in front of your computer instead of curling up with a loved one to watch your favorite movie, and missed more nights of sleep than a brain surgeon after the zombie apocalypse. You deserve this.
But that’s just the start. Get lost in the euphoria. If the moment is to be short lived, why not let it envelop you? This is the time to celebrate, and these times will be few and far between. When you’re at the peak, where even shifting your weight will start the descent, take it all in. Know it, and use it for your next piece. That momentum from sliding down the mountain or leaping from a cliff will propel you to your next summit.
Make your writing career about hitting as many summits as possible. Let it be your high. The struggle to get there is very much worth it.
But don’t take this as motivation. You need to know the penultimate of true success. It needs to be real. Stories that manufacture happiness go stale fast. If your readers stick through your writing to the end, you owe it to them to make them think about the emotion, the message, and the overall experience for days, months, even years.
Really understand what writing is as an art compared to other forms. A painting can be glanced at, a song can be muted, but to read a book requires a degree of commitment on the audience’s end. In order for someone to take in the full breadth of the work, they must read every single word . Respect your reader enough to make their endeavor worth the effort.
Eat, sleep, and be merry. You can’t be the most despicable version of you if you don’t know how to be the most elated, and your stories will be all the better for it.
I look forward to reading your masterpiece.