“…I urge you to get to work with all your heart, resolute on being bolder, crazier, more advanced, surprising, eccentric, incomprehensible, and grotesque than anybody else in music. I urge you to be a madman.”
-F.T. Marinetti, to composer Francesco Pratella
I took my second of two senior seminars this past semester, and in it we spent a good chunk of time focusing on Italian Futurism, the movement spearheaded by F. T. Marinetti in the early 20th century. Futurists, put simply, had a strong desire to move away from the safety and sameness of past art and literature and dive into more dangerous and unexplained territory. They had a love of speed, danger, and violence, and some of the things Marinetti spoke out on in his Futurist Manifesto made him seem more than a bit unstable. He wrote about the need to move away from cliches (which I mentioned in my post on Dan Wells’ Partials a while back), away from the things considered “safe” in art, things guaranteed to please the masses, and away from the simple retelling of past stories (seriously – how many versions of Romeo & Juliet are out there this point?).
But there is one quote of his I find very relevant to anyone who hopes to pursue an art form, be in painting, writing, singing, etc. He believed that, in order to be seen as an innovator in art, in order to stand out, you must tap into your inner madman and find the good material hidden there. This bit of advice that he offered to composer Francesco Pratella when he joined the Futurist movement was intended to aide him in his pursuits in the Parisian and European art world. But it holds true for anyone who hopes to become successful in art. Don’t focus on what everyone else is doing; be an innovator, do something new, and don’t be afraid to stand out, because otherwise, how will you ever get noticed?
Take a break to read a bit each day, even if it’s only 15 minutes, to clear your mind of all the clutter of the day-to-day.
Much like old friends, when you read old stories over again, something new that you didn’t know existed before becomes apparent. Maybe it’s because you’ve grown, maybe it’s because you simply weren’t paying attention. But what it really means is that it’s important to remember what was important to you in the past and look to enjoy it in the present.
Anyone who’s ever written anything can understand the frustration of writer’s block. But when put in this perspective, it becomes easier to understand. Sometimes the brain just isn’t ready for the big or right ideas and needs time to really mold the bits of an idea into the whole of the final product. The knowledge and ability are there to get the idea on paper, but sometimes you just need time to get them right.
A screen adaptation of a book or series gives only minor indication of the quality of the book it is based on. So often it happens that bestselling books are adapted into TV shows or movies, and they end up being a huge disappointment. The Vampire Academy and Mortal Instruments movies are testaments to this. Other times, such as the case with The Vampire Diaries, they end up better, at least in my humble opinion. A book can be crappy and have a great movie or series made out of it, and a great book could have a terrible adaptation. Just like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it shouldn’t be judged based on someone’s on-screen interpretation of it.
In order to be a good writer, one must be able to create new worlds, new characters, and new stories. Looking to the past for inspiration is never a bad thing – knowing what failed or succeeded is always helpful. But rather than relive the past, create something others will want to relive in the future.
Some Monday morning inspiration for all those writers out there. Don’t be afraid to step away from what’s comfortable and create something that you never thought possible!