Thursday, November 11, 2010

A little post on big ideas

So I have been meaning to get back to the long-neglected Borrowed Fire series, in which we learn lots about how to write, from people who are (I think) all dead now. Yes, Dracula knocked me down for the count (ha!), but it didn't kill me. And I'm just about ready to tackle some more upscale literary horror in The Turn of the Screw.

But somehow my mind is vapor-locked, and so, instead of doing that work, I spent a rather long time looking for this interview between Steve Almond and Patrick Thomas Casey on The Rumpus. I finally found it. The thing is comic gold, but the part I really wanted to remember was this advice to aspiring writers from Casey:

I would also say not to be afraid of ambition, which is not the same thing as being a jerk-off and showing everyone how smart you are, but is in fact the simple idea that you may be both worthy and capable of engaging straight-faced and straight-forwardly with the big, important truths. Of course, you will always fail, but this may be the one human endeavor in which proximity to success counts.

I just think that's great. How many of us writers are shying away from "big ideas" because we somehow don't think we can handle them? Dostoevsky was a wreck and he could handle them. Why can't we?

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