7. The Force vs. Tricks & Nonsense
And I quote:
Ben Kenobi: Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.
Luke Skywalker: You mean it controls your actions?
Kenobi: Partially, but it also obeys your commands.
[Luke gets shot by the remote.]
Han Solo: [laughs] Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.
Skywalker: You don’t believe in the Force, do you?
Solo: Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything.There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. Anyway, it’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.
In this scene in Star Wars: A New Hope, we see the philosophical dichotomy within this group of heroes. You have the idealistic and solemn believers, and you have the gritty, fun-loving, tricks-and-nonsense crowd. I think the same goes for writing. There are a lot of factions, but the only way to really make an impact, just like in the movie, is to combine those two sides into one.
Writing is a holy thing. It’s the ancient skill of conveying ideas, beliefs, mores, happenings, and entertainment from one person to another, or from one person to millions. It makes us feel godlike, and it’s vital to everything we’ve ever accomplished in human history. Excellence in literature should be respected, pursued with diligence and reverence, and held on a pedestal to be admired.
But just like life in Han Solo’s world, everything about writing is made up of simple tricks and nonsense. If you can’t maneuver the there/their/they’re game, forget it, you’ll be called out as a hack. You’ve got to know the nuts & bolts, the nitty gritty, the hands-on skills, and understand how to play the games to find yourself on the successful side of publishing. But you’ve got to have fun doing it too, and scoff at the rules from time to time. If you do the same thing as everyone else, just as you’re told, you’ll never find your own voice. You need to fly from one side of the galaxy to another with wild abandon, and you need to go through this writing life as if you have a bounty on your head—never stop working, never stop trying new genres, never stop reading, learning, writing.
And of course, you need some…