What you thought it would be vs. what it is
This is a comic I drew in my diary in February 2017. I found it courtesy of a new routine of mine:
When I walk into my studio and I don’t know what to write about, I pick a diary off the shelf from 5 years ago, open it up, and start reading. I will almost always find something I can use that gets my gears turning enough to begin. (If not, I move on to a 4-year-old notebook. Rinse and repeat.)
There is no new exciting idea I have that can’t be found somewhere in a 5-year-old notebook.
The comic reminded me of a problem I’ve been having: I possess a “fix-it” brain that switches on sometimes when I read. I will often get distracted from the book I am reading by dreaming about the imaginary book I wish it were instead. Once this imaginary book is conjured, it is very hard to pay attention to the book I’m holding in my hands.
When I was interviewing Peter Turchi last week, we talked about the pitfalls of writing workshops. One way to ruin a workshop, according to Peter in his book, (Don’t) Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before, is to think it as a place where you “fix” or “repair” stories, as if you were taking your car in to the mechanic.
When you take your car to a service station, while different mechanics may offer different diagnoses, they aren’t likely to tell you that your Honda Civic should be a tractor, or that it would be more interesting with fewer windows.
That “fix-it” brain that I get sometimes when I read is exactly what Peter cautions against. Better questions he says, are: “What is this? What’s most interesting about it?” (Another question is: Is this for me?)
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