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Writing Quote: Worth Writing About

April 18, 2010

Today’s writing quote comes from a name well-known in poetry circles.  It concerns the writability of our every-day lives:

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

~Sylvia Plath

In all honestly, I have mixed feelings about Miss Plath’s comments.  For one point, few of us have lives so interesting that, even if significantly dramatized, they can be made into a motion picture.  (And, to that point, few of us, I think, want lives that can be made into the sort of motion picture as was made of Miss Plath’s life.)  So, really, what to make of this quote? 

I was attracted to this quote, today, because of the phenomenal boringness of the last few days, vis-a-vis my work and what you’ve seen here in my blog (a series of references to the Decision Modeling class blog that I’ve submitted there as part of my class participation).  Okay, so I personally think the blog about NASA was pretty interesting, but then I’m a nerd, and that was really more about my reaction to reading about that news than it was anything active or interesting in my life, personally.

So, class projects and long works-days during that special time of month at my day job have consumed me this past week.  Is there something “writable” in that?  How do you turn that around, and make it interesting and engaging for other people?  How do you take something that’s fundamentally… well… boring and make it seem interesting and worth reading about?  (I don’t mean that entirely in a negative way; I enjoy my Decision Modeling class, especially, but it’s not a topic that’s typically going to engage your average reader.)

A few years ago, I was struggling with this, as I was trapped in another even more boring and even more dead-end of a job than what I have now.  It was during a time before I met Dear Wife.  I had a bit of free time on my hands, and a few short stories came out of that time period (one of which was the original draft of the short story I’ve been working on and for which you see a progress bar and a “Submission Watch” on this page).  One of those stories addressed the fundamental boringness of my job, and quickly became a very dark fantasy addressing a topic I wouldn’t ordinarily consider.  (It’s a story that’s potentially on my revise/rewrite list, but it’s not near as good as the one I’m working on, and its fundamental premise is less interesting by far.)  Honestly, I’m not sure it’s a story that will ever be publishable or salable – I mean, it might be with a lot of revision and work, but that’s a long shot, I think.

Well, regardless, it’s something to think about, I suppose.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lua permalink
    April 18, 2010 1:08 pm

    Great argument and it’s definitely something to think about… Like you, I don’t believe everything in life is writable, but they perhaps can be the source of inspiration for a story… The story might not have anything to do with what have happened but it might have been the event where the writher had the idea for that story.
    I loved the second part of the quote though, “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
    I couldn’t agree more; self-doubt and fear are the sure ways of killing creativity… I know I’m guilty of both 🙂

  2. April 18, 2010 2:03 pm

    Lately my life has been so uneventful, I’ve been struggling to think up journal posts for my blog. I don’t think anyone would really want to hear about me going to work, going home, cooking dinner…

    Hmm maybe the point of the quote is that if you’re truly being observant, you can always find inspiration in everyday life. It may not be part of your life per say: maybe you’ll read a touching personal ad in the newspaper, or happen across lonely shoe an alleyway and wonder what happened. These things can spark stories.

  3. April 18, 2010 7:23 pm

    You guys make some good points about how even the boring parts of everyday life might make for inspiration for a story, even if it is not the story itself. Mostly, I agree people don’t want to hear about going to work, going home, making dinner, going to bed, etc. ad nauseum. But within that, and the little moments between that humdrum, there might be some seed, some idea, or some emotion.

    The essence of story, as I’ve come to understand it is “Character” + “Conflict/Challenge” + “An Attempt to Resolve the Conflict”. What’s lacking in the humdrum of life is the “conflict” or “challenge”. But, I can see how that lack of conflict could actually cause us to seek out challenges to overcome, or moments to give us meaning in our life. Largely, I think that’s why fiction and stories are so imortant to us: they challenge us and they give us meaning.

    Thanks, Bazelli and Lua, for sharing your thoughts!

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