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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

great potential

Another day of more focus on copywriting than on novel-writing. It was good, though: I felt energized, and inspired to look back through notes I made some time ago on copywriting, in order to prepare a proposal for a new client. I felt myself lean on techniques I learned and developed while I was a business analyst at ICBC. I enjoy analyzing things and coming up with solutions.

I also like doing these other kinds of writing. To me, even as a teenager I was attracted to all the various types of writing that could be done, including scriptwriting, songwriting, and even writing computer programs--I did them all. It was as though the word write was the basic verb of creativity: the act of catching the traces of one's ideas on paper (or, now, on a PC). I loved the idea of being a Renaissance man, whose creativity could be expressed through all those different media.

The psychologist Scott Peck, in his famous book The Road Less Traveled, describes life as a journey on which we progressively outgrow (or not) various misconceptions about ourselves. One of these really stuck in my mind: "the adolescent fantasy of omnipotentiality". I was an adolescent--and postadolescent--with such a fantasy.

Sticking too long with the belief that "I can do anything" is injurious to one's progress, since, while it may have been partly true at one point, it shrivels into meaninglessness as one approaches death. I remember a cartoon: a headstone incised with an image of a steaming coffee cup, and the words "great potential". The jack of all trades is in grave danger of needing that headstone.

One needs to take a hard, honest look at where one's interest and passion really lies, and, generally speaking, the sooner the better. The adolescent doesn't want to suffer under the limitation of a single path. But our life is a single path, like it or not. You're already on it, kid. If you can pick that one path, you'll find plenty of variety and adventure in that one field. Detailed worlds open up, and challenges greater than you could have imagined as an overconfident adolescent.

It's hard to be honest with oneself about one's true preferences. And, having been honest about them, it's hard then to act on them. And yet I have no doubt this is the best thing for everyone. We're here to realize our true nature. Why shirk that task? Why delay?

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