SPEWING UNTIL IT'S SPECIAL
You have heard of William Faulkner. You also don’t know why. Guaranteed.
(If I’m wrong, send me an email and tell me to stuff it. I will apologize.)
I once had a college course on American literature that assigned Faulkner’s masterpiece, The Sound And The Fury. (It’s a title which sounds great, just by the way. It’s big and exciting. Inside the book, not so much.)
For that course, I had to fake my way through the assignments related to the book because my 19-year-old brain could not penetrate the gentleman’s prose. Please know that I discredit myself and not the book.
William Faulkner is indisputably one of America’s greats.
The author of such acclaimed novels as the forementioned The Sound and the Fury, not to mention As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner was also a Hollywood screenwriter.
Faulkner’s screen credits include To Have And Have Not, The Big Sleep, and (for all you fans of Barton Fink) the Wallace Beery wrestling picture, Flesh.
Clearly, Faulkner was a pro and not a snob about literary merit. He wrote detective movies and wrestling pictures.
In other words, he might as well have written advertising.
The only person I know whom I’m certain has read William Faulkner is a friend from Faulkner’s home state of Mississippi. He’s a former advertising copywriter who went on to Saturday Night Live, followed by big Hollywood screenwriting gigs. He is one of those people who can bend words to his will.
But of all his grand credits, my personal favorite is his big win in the Faux Faulkner Contest, sponsored by Yoknapatawpha Press and the University of Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
His winning entry?
William Faulkner’s long lost script for the Three Stooges, entitled “As I Lay Kvetching.”
But I digress. The point of this screed is about writing as the pained writer. You find yourself having to write, albeit reluctantly.
There’s also a good chance that what you have to write is going to be less than a page long.
And the task makes you want to jab out your own eyes with a pair of steely sharp implements from the Department Of Pointy Tools at Home Depot.
I can virtually guarantee that the reason why you experience such a self-mutilatory Oedipal reflex is this:
You’re working too hard at dreading the task and not working hard enough at just doing it.
Here’s where Mr. Faulkner comes in. When speaking to the great American literary critic and editor Malcolm Cowley, Faulkner said:
“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”
I would go so far as to say that it’s the only way you can get anything written.
And for our purposes here in Words Good, we’re not asking you to write earth-shaking, mind-bending, critic-applauded literary prose. We’re just talking about writing a single page, double spaced.
But don’t mistake that single page for the place you stop writing.
To get to that single page, you’ll find it much easier to write three pages.
It’s much easier to get it down when you write without boundaries.
Writing a single page is imposing a boundary.
Writing several pages that can later be cut down to a single page is writing on the open range.
Write! Write! Scribble and scratch! Blather and babble blithery boo!
Give yourself permission to spew freely with as much of el vómito as you can muster, and you will be surprised.
You will find yourself with a mountain of mishegas that contains a single page of good stuff once you’ve shoveled away the garbage.
No good writing falls onto the page fully formed as if Athena from the forehead of Zeus. (Look it up.)
Good writing is a storm of bad writing that is tamed into submission.
The junk is swept away until only the goodness remains.
And if you’re trying to write only one page, first writing three pages without boundaries will speed up your writing and give you better ideas than you ever imagined.
Sit. Write. Be free.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in Park City
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Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.