Six Months In, Six Lessons Learned (Part II)

(This is Part II. Read Part I here.)

4. I must be willing, when necessary, to murder my darlings.

This I first heard said roughly a year ago, by Stephen King. Later, I found the notion echoed by Annie Dillard, among others.

I’ve never experienced anything that can equal the joy of discovering an idea and then giving it arms, legs, and skin. Ashley and I haven’t yet had children; but if giving birth is anything like turning an idea into something material, I can’t wait to be a father.

I wouldn’t dare compare the abandoning of a creative work to the abandoning of a human child.

I have no doubt there’s a fundamental difference.

Still, there is a great pain which accompanies the former. For some, it’s simply too much; they go on fighting and struggling to avoid the loss of that which they simply can’t keep.

But while no parent should ever abandon their child, every writer must sometimes kill their darlings.

They are the dangerous, untame branches of an otherwise fruitful tree.

For a tree to continue producing fruit, it must occasionally be pruned.

* * *

5. The end result will rarely ever be good if I do something for no reason but that someone told me I’m supposed to.

This one’s particularly tricky. To determine if it’s applicable takes discernment and, most of all, time.

When you begin something new, it would be foolish not to seek out advice from the journeys of others. Some of the advice will make sense while some of it will not.

At this point, the part you don’t understand is the part most likely to be true. The deepest truths cannot be conveyed by mere words or demonstrations; they can only be experienced.

Thus, we must look to others who have gone before us, who have learned through experience that which we don’t yet know.

Eventually, though, our journeys will contain experiences of our own. And that is when we must decide:

Will we continue following the directions of others? Or will we find a path of our own?

* * *

6. The human voice, whether spoken, written, or conveyed through telepathy, is capable of producing two, and only two, kinds of sound. It can make noise or it can make music. The world needs less of the former and more of the latter.

As research for our third week’s topic, Ashley and I watched the movie August Rush. By the way, have I ever mentioned that I love my job?

The following day, I was thinking about a quote from the movie and turned it into a post.

The quote is this:

Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the wind, in the air, in the light. It’s all around us. All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do… is listen.

At first I considered the quote to be poetic; like a pretty rhyme, it was easy on the ears.

But soon I began to wonder if there was something more to it, if perhaps the characters, or the actors, or the writer(s) of the script actually meant it.

Now, several months later, I’ve come to believe it.

Music is a fundamental element of nature, in a sense no different than carbon, palladium, or hassium. And it isn’t always played by instruments or sung by choirs.

It’s in each of us, if we would have it; in every choice we make it can be found.

Most of the options before us will merely result in more noise.

But there’s always one…

* * *

Now that I’m done, I realize that I’ve lied. The truth is that there are seven lessons which I have learned, the last of which is this:

7. Never let go of hope.


*Photo Credit: Nosha (Creative Commons)

Join the conversation...