Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A consideration of "How to Be Creative"

Large big-mouth talking, courtesy and copyright of Hugh MacLeod

I have decided to mull the Wisdom of Hugh, despite the fact that he occasionally offends my sensibilities. Perhaps because he occasionally, etc.

However, I refuse to do it in the proper order.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

Everybody is too busy with their own lives to give a damn about your book, painting, screenplay etc, especially if you haven't sold it yet. And the ones that aren't, you don't want in your life anyway.

--Hugh MacLeod, How to be Creative, The Gaping Void

For various reasons that I won’t go into—for fear that they might reflect oddly on somebody, somewhere, somewhen—I grew up with a high tolerance for "different" and crazy people. This is an unfortunate propensity for a writer, because writers attract crazy people. This was especially unfortunate when I lived near an eminent Yankee psychiatric institution or nuthouse. When I pushed the pram through the charming Olmstead-designed park with my sterling, adorable babies, the local unhinged population trailed after me, making strange cries of infant-worship and calling out curious things about their sex lives, the local topography, and other potentially frightening topics.

I still have a lot of crazy friends. Years of my life were devoted to crazy men, once upon a time. Finally I realized the difference between crazy and not crazy.

This was hard for me, because I come from a long line of neurologically-interesting people.

But it was not impossible.

I am married to a healthy-minded man with an astounding number of fun hobbies, including a liking for cooking his way through Bon Appetit each month.

But if you’re reading this and you’re a crazy friend of mine, remember: I love you. I’m nothing if not loyal.

:-}) :-) :-})

Oh, and that first bit of wisdom. We-the-writers knew that. We knew it in our scribbling bones, while we sat in the corners of our rooms (the chilly attic ones with the horrible wallpaper of fainting mongooses and stains in the shapes of tiger lilies), staring into the corner where the paper doesn’t quite match.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.