Sunday, May 23, 2010

Don't Shortchange the Muse!

Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can't fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal. ~William S. Burroughs

Great quote. To me, this just reinforces the idea of TRUTH. Even in fiction. The notion that we, as writers, must stay absolutely true to who we are as writers. I've blogged recently about being comfortable in your own writer's skin, about not trying to be someone/something you're not. It's sooooo important.

Also, I think this advice is relevant to the story/characters in fiction. If you're not being truthful about emotions or circumstances or character, it will show up as glaringly as a ketchup stain on the page. The writer will see when you're trying to be something you're not. They'll know when you're trying to push character/story too hard, or take things in an unnatural direction that they don't want to go. It reminds me of when writers "try" to make a reader cry. They set up a tear-jerker of a scene, with readers' tears as the main goal. Readers aren't stupid. They will see right through this and roll their eyes, rather than let tears fall from them. But -- if you write the scene with depth and honesty first, from a place deep inside yourself that is absolutely real, the reader will feel that and react.

Bottom line, don't take the risk of shortchanging the Muse. Let everything you write ring with absolute truth. Because if you take shortcuts or skimp on quality, or write something that deep inside your gut you know is not truthful -- then (even worse than shortchanging your Muse) --you're also shortchanging your reader. And that's never a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. true. A reader can tell if a writer is forcing that emotion or it's not natural. It's when a reader can 'relate' to that emotion and knows the writer's words ring true that those tears can flow, for ex.