Thursday, November 14, 2013

Unconditional Love is a Harsh Mistress

Somehow, I'm the kind of person people like to pour out their troubles to. I don't think I look particularly sympathetic, but maybe they get the vibe that I can help. Whenever someone talks to me about relationship problems, I fall back on something I learned long ago:

Unconditional love is a harsh mistress. But it's the only one worth serving.

This is the only piece of advice I ever give, and it's not really advice. It's a credo.

Credos provide perspective and a steady compass needle. I think because we live in a time of easy gratification and moral relativism, self-indulgence is easy to rationalize. Without a solid credo or two, we fall prey to laziness.

Writers, real, true writers, those whose veins run with Quink Permanent Blue-Black or Namiki Wild Chestnut, consider writing to be their mistress. And sometimes she is harsh!

When you write seriously, with passion, whether you are a professional or aspiring to be one, you have gotten to the point where you must love your mistress unconditionally, or you will be tempted to compromise. You will be tempted to give weight to little setbacks and misunderstandings that don't matter. You will be tempted to quit, not knowing that in the very act of persistence lies salvation.

So: Join me in loving our beautiful, infuriating, sexy, impossible mistress unconditionally. Serve her without question, and see what happens.

[Photo by ES: Original drafts of You've Got a Book in You.]

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  1. I think i get it, the whole mistress thing. I missed three days of writing for NaNo because I couldn't think of what came next for the middle part of my novel. I was sitting in front of my chromebook and nothing happened. It was kind of like trying to make your significant other tell you what's wrong but end up getting the silent treatment. I almost gave up and tried to type up scenes I didn't really believe in. Good thing I deleted them all. Thankfully I approached the problem from a different angle. I skipped to the ending and wrote from there. And the moment I had, I knew how I wanted the middle to flow and quickly went back to summarize it. I'm still writing the ending and now, my book and I, are in harmony again.

    1. I agree, Lidy, a change of perspective is wonderfully valuable when a writer gets stuck. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  2. Unconditional love is a good way to describe how we feel about our writing muse. Sometimes he stubborn and difficult to manage. He can be hard to love at times. I want to hate him but then he whispers in my ear, and I crumble. --Tabitha Maine

  3. My mistress, think Glenn Close. Yes, crazy. Yes, obsessive. Yes, totally in charge of my life. Do I love 'her' unconditionally? When in a relationship this tight, who the hell knows? Thankfully, no a pet rabbits in the house.


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