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Know Jack #351 Dancing in the Dark.

“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.”

Erica Jong

I may be terribly wrong, but in one sense, a writer’s life is not meant to be a happy place—that is if his writing is any good. He must continually endanger and stress his imaginary friends in worst-case scenarios. All the while the writer is ever searching for a way to dig them out only so that he can dump them into the next pit he has prepared.

The writer has to think like a villain as often as he dons the role of a hero. He must ponder the one’s defeat as he writes the other’s happily ever after. And just where does the writer come up with all this? From within. I suppose that’s why I don’t write comedies and the faithful dogs and horses of my heroes always end up dead.

There’s an old saying that to sing/play the blues, you have to live the dues. It doesn’t take much to send me into a melancholy funk. It certainly isn’t courage that takes me there, nor is it anything but stubbornness that drags me out again. But darned if I don’t find some good ideas there (my apologies, Ed).

My grandson was in the first grade when he accidentally knocked something off his desk. “Shit fire and save the matches!” was his response. There was no doubt in our small town about where he learned that colorful line. If my characters are prone to self-doubt, well…

I do take some measure of solace knowing that Stephen King threw Carrie away. I have a hard time giving credence to writers who are confident in their talent. I’m sure they exist somewhere, but then I believe Bigfoot is real too. Actually, Bigfoot might be the more plausible of the two beliefs.

Don’t get me wrong, I love writing, it’s an essential ingredient in life like love and coffee. It is a joy, even when it’s work, but talent will only take you so far. At some point, you’ve got to take all the toxic junk that people tell you to forget or leave in the past, throw that load up on your shoulders and walk off into the dark places to write real characters who think like real people.


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