Thelonious Monk was quoted as saying, “It’s always night. Why else would we need light?” I like the quote, but I think he got it entirely backwards. I thought about this quote recently because someone had pointed out that as writing blogs go, mine was not that practical.
I had to agree. I am not always a practical man. Years ago I decided it was time to learn to protect myself and so I chose to study Aikido, the least practical martial art I could find—practical in this case meaning useful if I were going to be in a bar fight. What drew me to Aikido was its philosophy not its technique, which is what draws me to everything, including writing this blog.
I am horrible at taking advice. I reject almost all of it out of hand. For this reason I have never read an entire book on writing. All the thoughtful books filled with practical, useful advice are lost on me. However, paint for me a friendly but honest portrait of the world, a world always worth waking up to every morning, and I am yours. I always trusted I could figure out how to write on my own, I just needed someone to remind me why it was worth doing.
That we turn to darkness for rest and light for living is most of what I need to remember of the world when I write. It is easy to become tangled in strong characters and weak characters, in grabber beginnings and memorable endings, but all of that takes care of itself when you hold to the light. You don’t need to worry about pleasing your readers if you let the light through, because everyone is drawn to the light.
I understand letting the light through is not practical; I understand it is not the best piece of advice if you want to create more believable male leads—but all the writing rules in the world were only written to help you clear away the dust from your windows. You can get so busy cleaning and cleaning that you wind up staring at the pane for spots instead of drinking in the light it reveals.