“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up for work.”
Right above my desk, there’s a Post-It note with this quote scrawled on it to remind me that showing up matters. And because I’m so fond of this quote, I was thrilled to see in a NY Times story that Chuck Close, an accomplished photographer and artist, has been sharing his no-nonsense advice with at-risk kids through a program called “Turnaround Arts,” which brings the arts center stage in schools where kids are underperforming. What a fantastic idea!
“Art saved my life,” Chuck told the kids — and he believes in its power to do the same for others. As a kid himself, Chuck struggled with neurological disabilities that made it tough for him to write. So he took another path. Instead of handing in a paper in history, he drew “a 20-foot-long mural of the Lewis and Clark trail.”
Afflicted with a condition that affected his ability to recognize faces, Chuck said, “I figured out what I had left and I tried to make it work for me, Limitations are important.” Two other messages he delivered: Break the rules and use limitations to your advantage.
Use limitations to your advantage: now, that’s advice worth pursuing! As writers, we face lots of limitations: lack of time, lack of academic training, lack of plot savvy, lack of dialogue-writing skills, lack of agents and publishers — I’m sure you can add a few more.
Right now, one major limitation I face is the lack of dialogue in my YA novel. Mmm…How can I make this work for me? One way is to take some of the long descriptive passages and turn them into conversations between characters that convey information. In other words, I can use the dialogue not only to reveal character, but also to advance my story.
That sounds like an idea worth working on. Breaking rules and using limitations to our advantage — now these ideas sound tailormade for writing dangerously. Thanks Chuck! And thanks for this inspiration: “There is no artist who enjoys what he does every day more than I do.”