Have you been writing anything lately, Momma?

“Write a bad story.”

I read the words and consider closing the book on such a ridiculous idea.

Why would I set out to write a bad story?  I want to write truth-infused stories that compare to the giants of literature and stir the hearts of readers everywhere.  (music swelling in the background)

It’s true that I’m not currently writing stories of such caliber.  In fact my daughter, (who is currently sketching daily and taking a creative writing class) and who knows of my dreams of writing, asked me just the other day,

“Have you been writing anything lately, Momma?”

“No, not really.” No. Nada.

In fact I haven’t written any blog posts, or picked up my sketchbook to create a drawing or watercolor in months.  I’m surrounded by artists of great skill, some of them young in my house, some of them lining our shelves, and some in my surrounding community.  I want to draw like them (but not like them).  I don’t want to do bad paintings.

Turning to my last (and most dear) genre, I think about plays and theater, and I certainly don’t want to teach, direct or write anything of poor quality.  So I haven’t done anything.  For about 12 years.

If I’m paralyzed by such lofty aims, and certainly by the chance that someone might catch a glimpse of my mediocre failings, maybe changing my target could be helpful.

I think of the words again.  “Write a bad story.”

Can I aim for bad, and possibly create more than, well, nothing.

And if I aim for bad and fail at bad, does that mean my failings might be good?

A perfectly preposterous idea.

But what have I got to lose with preposterous ideas?

That’s right. (Nothing.)

Revised Goal:

Write a bad story.  Draw a bad picture.  Start a mediocre theater class.

Just. Start.



Extra: Watch this video by NPR’s Ira Glass, on creative work.

The quote, ‘Write a bad story”, can be found in the book  If You Want to Write by Brenda Uleland, an absolute gem of a book for anyone dreaming of creative pursuits, writing or otherwise.

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