You Are The God Of Your Creative Universe

Jan 14, 2016 | Inspiration, Writing

I went to see author T. C. Boyle speak towards the end of last year. It was the first time I had been to a book launch or an evening with sort of event. I didn’t expect to discover an important lesson in how to control my creative universe. A part of me went there as a component of my ‘learning to be an author’ education. Another part of me went there out of curiosity. And yet another part went as a fan.

I am not a true fan by any stretch of the imagination. It has been years since I have read anything by Mr. Boyle, or maybe I should call him Heer Boyle. He calls his wife Frau Boyle. I can’t even remember specifically what the books were about. I have three of them. I vaguely remember them being about counter-culture and told with a great deal of biting black humour. I also remember them being a difficult read. There was a certain amount of persistence required to really get into the books. Once you were there, though, you were hooked. He must have hooked me more than once, I have several of his books in my bookcase. I also recall that his written language was very rich with a lot of descriptive words. That would also explain why it took so long to get into the flow of the story.

The Harder They Come.

He read from his latest book entitled The Harder They Come. He was relaxed and eloquent. There was the mountain of descriptives but they didn’t seem out of place. Coming out of his mouth they made perfect sense and it didn’t sound like he had overdone it. I realised that he was the only person who could best interpret his own work. I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing his work justice. I would be stumbling before I had reached the end of the first paragraph. He mentioned that he had personally read his own audio books and only on rare occasions had someone else done them. It showed in his performance. For that was exactly what it was. I donned my authors hat and was impressed. Here was someone who could sell his own work. It was rehearsed but not forced. He has quite a body of work. I suppose he has been fortunate to have already had plenty of practice at getting it right. It certainly makes him an expert in the field of “T. C. Boyle”.

Practice makes perfect.

I had the impression that he feared adulation. He reassured the audience several times that he wasn’t anything special, just someone expressing himself. He himself didn’t know where it all came from. He never knew what his next story would be. He would start with an idea and sit down and start writing. It is slightly more complicated than that. I know that myself. The hardest part is in the writing. There is no limit to ideas. His working schedule consisted of churning out a novel. He then juxtaposes that with writing short stories in between. He would do this until he came up with an idea which he considered rich enough to fill an entire book. It seemed as if he never stopped writing. It’s the only way you improve. Practice makes perfect.
All the details of his regime were very interesting, but it wasn’t until deep into the Q & A that he said something which really stuck with me. I am not sure that he even realised what he had said. It was a line in an answer to an unrelated question. Possibly it was rehearsed, he did seem to have the occasional stock answer which he bent to fit certain questions.
The line was effectively about writing theory. The question, whatever it was, came from a writer in the audience. The answer went something like this: you are the god of your own universe. He was referring to how in his books he puts his characters through the rigmarole. He really makes their lives uncomfortable. His advice was to dare to be mean to your characters. Rain down your wrath upon them. Make them suffer.

You are an Artist.

The line stayed with me, it stuck. I read a different slant into the line. For me it was about being brave. Not just that you should be courageous in your storytelling but that you should also do it in general as an artist. You should be the god of your entire creative universe. That is slightly more difficult than doing it purely on the page. In a book your fictional characters never have to stand up and face the real world. They only have to contend with their own fictional world. Anything can happen there. You have control over what happens with the characters in your stories, your created world. The same can be said about the real world. You have control over what happens to you as an artist. Yes, you are an artist. Anyone who creates something is an artist. Maybe the word should be capitalised. It should not be understated. You are an ARTIST. It’s that important.
You have the godlike ability to control what happens with your creativity.

Heer Boyle’s line hit me full in the head. It slapped my inner artist around and shook it up. I realised that I had nothing to fear. What I did creatively was peculiar to me. I could wreak havoc as an artist. I could be a force to be reckoned with. What I did could never be construed as wrong. It simply was the way I did it. In my creative universe I am omnipotent. T. C. Boyle is testament to this. He can’t explain what it is and exactly where it all comes from. Yet he has the strength and determination to keep doing what he is doing. And what he does is good. I am not a lesser god. I am capable of the doing the same thing. The only difference is that it is my thing. When I finish it, I can hold my head up high and say: I have created something and I see that it is good. And you can do the same.
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Are you going wild in your creative universe?

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