Friday, December 28, 2012

Play Dead—so that your eyes will stay open

To die your whole life [he is quoting Kafka]. Despite the morbidity, I can’t think of a better definition of the writing life. There’s something about writing that demands a leave-taking, an abandonment of the world, paradoxically, in order to see it clearly.

Jeffrey Eugenides offered this pearl of wisdom in a speech give to the 2012 Whiting Award winners.  It's printed in the New Yorker and well worth a read.  He was talking to up-and-coming writers.  Writers who have been published, are young and probably have a long life ahead of them.  Musicians, actors, directors of all ages could also benefit from what he has to say.   

Don't listen to what others tell you. Don't let it cloud your creativity. Write for yourself.  Create as if you were dead or dying.  You wouldn't care what anyone thought at that point.  Kennedy Center Honorees Led Zeppelin and David Letterman have followed this path.  Do you think Zeppelin or Letterman care what others think of their art?  I don't and that is what makes them great.  Dance all you want to a different drummer. 

Eugenides closes with the line that should be in the forefront of every creative person's head:
Play dead—so that your eyes will stay open.

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