This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately, because I usually don’t write about things that I have a burning passion for.
I usually write about things that are “cool ideas”. That’s my biggest driving force – the “cool” factor. If I like something, I want to work with it. But there’s nothing that really screams to me that I MUST write about it.
I tried writing about music, which I really enjoy – but I don’t love it. I don’t run up to friends and badger them about new bands that I’m into. I don’t go to shows all that often. I have, at best, a casual like of music.
I also, weirdly enough, start to hate my own writing after a while. I look ahead, I don’t really look back – and sometimes, it’s evident. There are too many things I want to write about (cool things), and too little time to do them all well. I don’t want to spend my time revising them. In fact, sometimes, I just want to delve into an idea, express it, and be done with it.
I don’t want to perfect my statement, or tweak each chapter. I’m not dying to get back into the manuscript. I just want to get it out, and have that be that. It’s a counter-productive approach, I think; I like the chance to work on ideas in depth, but I like my work best when it’s short and straightforward. I love working on scripts the most, because it’s about characters, words, and pacing. Somebody else does the heavy lifting with imagery, descriptions, and so on.
But when I lack the passion for a project, I find myself walking away from it a bit too easily. I don’t want to go back to tweak with it. I’ll just abandon it and go on to the next idea. I’m not invested in it, and to me, it shows. I had a recent conversation with an artist friend about that, and I was amazed at the difference in how our approaches to creative work were. I could disengage, but she couldn’t; she looks for emotional connections in things she paints about. I just like cool ideas. She can’t stop working on things; I can.
The thing is, I do have passions. I’m passionate about the state of education in this country. I’m passionate about smart kids getting opportunities to stretch the boundaries of their minds. I love well-done movies. There are comics panels that make the very hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and I used to chase them. I used to avoid discussions of politics and religion because, frankly, I think they’re both well-intended systems that have turned out to be complete crap.
I hate the state of politics in America, because there is no candidate who’d support many or all of my views. (Apparently, balancing a budget, favoring gay rights, supporting the privacy of women’s health care choices, taking major industry and the tax code to task for being inefficient and careless, avoiding corporate lobbyists AND supporting education reform are all mutually exclusive… but I digress.) Religion… has its uses, has its practical contributions to society, but ends up being a goddamn excuse for people who shouldn’t be allowed to have one (that is, the so-called “pro-life” crowd that engages in hate speech and domestic terrorism)
The point is, a lot of what I write is nice, surface stuff. But it doesn’t mean anything to me. And I feel like I need to connect with things I really care about, in order to a) finish them, and b) do them justice. What about you?