January 26, 2014

Don't try too hard

Dear M,

This post is inspired by a film and a book. The film is a comedy, and it does have its funny moments. One of the actors is a very talented person and I have recently had the occasion to admire his performance in a touching role. The book was written by the author for his ten year old son.

I was not impressed with the actor in the movie. And I was not impressed with the writing in the book.

The problem in both was that, the actor and the author were trying too hard. The veteran actor, to whom normally comedy comes as easy as breathing, the author to whom writing is as effortless, were trying too hard to impress. The actor seemed very conscious that this was a comedy film, and he was putting in an extra round of expression or a heightened tone of voice, or something. The author had to impress his ten year old. And everyone knows that ten year olds aren't easily impressed. If the son doesn't like the story, he is going to ask straight to his face: "Do they call you a good author?"

Both were nervous, both had to create an impact. It showed.

To me, this happens when I try to write something that did not come normally to me. When I try to squeeze my creativity and channel it into a theme someone else has provided. We can do that too, effectively, if we take ample time. When we have the time to understand that theme and let it enter us, by allowing it to flow in our veins, to blow through our respiratory tunnels, to waddle in our nervous system.

If we are given a topic and asked to come up with something tomorrow, the result probably could be good, but not great. We don't settle for good, do we?


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