When I was super depressed, I wasn’t working—I was always too depressed. Hemingway did his best work when he didn’t drink, then he drank himself to death and blew his head off with a shotgun. Someone asked John Cheever, “What’d you learn from Hemingway?” and he said “I learned not to blow my head off with a shotgun.” I remember going to the Michigan poetry festival, meeting Etheridge Knight there and Robert Creeley. Creeley was so drunk—he was reading and he only had one eye, of course, and had to hold his book like two inches from his face using his one good eye. But you look at somebody like George Saunders—I think he’s the best short story writer in English alive—that’s somebody who tries very hard to live a sane, alert life.
You’re present when you’re not drinking a fifth of Jack Daniel’s every day. It’s probably better for your writing career, you know? I think being tortured as a virtue is a kind of antiquated sense of what it is to be an artist.
In an interview with The Fix, Mary Karr debunks the toxic mythology that it is necessary to be damaged in order to be creative. My own vehement defiance to that mythology is what led me to choose Ray Bradbury – the ultimate epitome of creating from joy rather than suffering – as the subject of my contribution to The New York Times’ The Lives They Lived.
Pair with Karr on why writers write.
Archetypes | THE TRICKSTER
See him hiding in plain sight, with charm and flair, smoking your cigarettes and drinking all the rum, promising you the moon with one face and stealing your immortal soul and your pocketwatch with the other. The trickster more often than not cannot be understood, merely guessed at, for he wears many masks and takes delight in playing the fool to make greater fools of others. He is a black hole at the centre of the story with many reflecting facets, a blind spot in the hero’s vision, sucking up all the love and light and truth and turning them into shining rupturing distractions. He is a gateway to transformation and the underworld, with chaos at his right hand and death at his left, and a terrible whimsy in between. Change is the song he sings, and chaos the ruin that he wreaks. Like a particularly toothsome shark, he will never stop moving onward.
He cannot abide any absolute or rule, will rattle at the cages of authorities until they come tumbling down. He likes to watch worlds crashing and burning and whirling like a whizzing firecracker with them. He has no care for good or evil, no need for the usual vices and virtues of humanity. Where others see fate and patterns, morality and honour, gods and righteousness, he sees only lies stretched over mayhem, and plays with them like a child playing cat’s cradle. Lies are his mother tongue, and with them he shapes and reshapes himself and the world to his liking. He may be destructive or merry, precise or bacchanalian, dealing out death or candy or all at once, but he is never, ever tame. He has no means but chaos, no plan but disorder, no motive but winning whatever fickle game he is playing against the universe, and so may be left standing alone in a burning wreckage that he never intended to create. (He will probably laugh for the flames anyway).
He charms, he whittles at wills, he holds up a mirror to your soul and will twist your mind until everything you see is so warped you will trust only him to speak the truth. And the truth he will speak; only just enough truth to fit his purpose best. He is not a guide; though he may become one by chance or boredom. Humanity is a fascination for him; an ongoing project. He may hate, or he may love, but only in strange ways unbound from traditional emotion, from right or respect or truth, but in creeping, crawling, manic ways that burn and turn the object of his love inside out; that sends them howling mad into the abyss until they destroy themselves or come out the other side burned clean, like earth scorched and made fertile to grow things not seen ever before.
What he desires above all else is to be free, free to pursue his pleasures in all their caprice and recklessness through the playground of the world. Yet often, in the end, he is bound for his crimes against nature. He will always rise again. Change is his game.
Examples: The Devil, Hannibal, Jack Sparrow, Tyler Durden, Loki (when he’s not trying to rule the world), Robin Goodfellow, Iago, Prometheus, Howl Jenkins, the Doctor, Alice Morgan, Moriarty.
#archetype series #Stagnation; comfort; sanity; these are is his enemies and he may bring about the fall of civilizations or the scandal of social scenes #the end of worlds or the discovery of hidden ones; the breaking of a hero or the rising of a monster; just to prove he can #when he watches the world with glittering eyes and walks with a spring in his step #it is full with the knowledge that he walks hand in hand with the underworld #that change is as much a death as any dagger to the heart #the trickster may howl and weep; will caper and scrape; will dance for the world with flair and style #and only reveal his true nature in the darkest of hours; when all hope is lost and the gauntlet run #even then; it might just be for a wolf smile and fade to black #he may be a winking eye from the text that he steps into and out of as he pleases #toying with audiences both within and without his story #Where he goes he breaks the too-perfect things #makes destructive and inventive mess out of careful order #restructures narratives like he’s cheating at cards #and plays with the loaded dice of his silver tongue #sorry this one got ridiculously long; it’s a tricky archetype #because it collides and conflates with death and underworld and chaos archetypes #which are all about change and otherwordly influences or agents shaking up worlds with grins and gristle #and merry tricksters may devolve into mad tricksters which may transmogrify into death gods or archetypes #which may rise again as new and terrible mischievious beasties #tricksters never die #they always come back #because they are made of the same stuff as the underworld; as the dark realms; the passing of boundaries and the coming back changed #probably needed to be a three-part series #ah well #by me (okayophelia)
(This quote is on our bathroom inspiration board.)
[made rebloggable by request]
Because the prophet, the revolutionary, the messiah, the human embodiment of a cause is … godtouched; he or she sees and feels and moves through the world with divinity of some kind or another running through his veins. It doesn’t have to be literally divine - though it usually is in some way - but it is something that lifts them beyond, that makes them holy to other humans, and when that happens, when disciples gather, they love him or her for it, they become utterly devoted.
And even if the prophet loves back, even with all the love in the world; his highest realm of love is reserved for something mere mortals cannot touch; his eyes lift over and beyond the horizon of reality, they look towards something greater. for the disciple, the love is the greatest and smallest part of that glory they can ever hope to hold.
it’s hard enough if you just love the prophet wholly, for who they are, for the ideal they embody, for their divinity
but to be loved back, to have that, but to know that no matter what that their love for you can never measure up to the engulfing love you feel for them, because so much of the prophet is sacred space, reserved, devoted to something beyond human, to the transcendence, the divinity, the cause - not even consciously, it’s just their nature -
that. that is cruel.
and look through my tags; they blink and reality shivers, nothing crueller than loving and being loved by a prophet, and disciples who love their messiah too much, (bonus for subversive judas iscariot feelings) they are all essentially the same concept. i have three fucking tags for this concept. i cannot be held accountable for my actions.
do you fill out a character sheet? (if yes, I would appreciate a link to the one(s) you like!) do you write out scenes with the character? do you “interview” them? what’s your method for getting to know a character, their motivations, their needs, and how they work?
I use what I will hereafter refer to as the cotton-eye joe method:
- WHERE DID THEY COME FROM
- WHERE DO THEY GO
And there are millions of teens who read because they are sad and lonely and enraged. They read because they live in an often-terrible world. They read because they believe, despite the callow protestations of certain adults, that books-especially the dark and dangerous ones-will save them.
As a child, I read because books–violent and not, blasphemous and not, terrifying and not–were the most loving and trustworthy things in my life. I read widely, and loved plenty of the classics so, yes, I recognized the domestic terrors faced by Louisa May Alcott’s March sisters. But I became the kid chased by werewolves, vampires, and evil clowns in Stephen King’s books. I read books about monsters and monstrous things, often written with monstrous language, because they taught me how to battle the real monsters in my life.
And now I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed.