Friday, January 27, 2012

Great Shot Kid! Don't Get Cocky

That's the best single line from "Star Wars Episode IV." Luke Skywalker has just obliterated one of the TIE fighters that are swarming around the Millennium Falcon, and he can't believe his luck. He flashes a childish grin and says, "I got him! I GOT HIM!" But in six little words, Solo brings him right back down to earth.

"Great shot kid! Don't get cocky."

I love that scene. So I'm biased. But to me, it's a perfect metaphor for writing. You can write a great turn of phrase, or your main character can do something cool and unexpected that takes your breath away, and there's a part of our brain, a very human part, that thinks it has just seen shades of the next Grace Paley.

Which, let's be honest, is probably garbage.

Take me for example. I had a great writing day today. I mean super-fantastic-megasweet. The words flowed, and I filled up page after page, rattling off sentences as if only by sheer force of typing I would fend off an asteroid headed straight for earth. It was a tremendous writing day. I feel immensely satisfied with it.

Which is why I need to shut my trap and get right back to work tomorrow.

As a younger writer, I would've taken tomorrow off. Basked a little in the afterglow of my achievement. Slept in till noon and then watched basketball all day long.

Not anymore. There's no time for that kind of complacency. You wrote like Toni Morrison on speedballs today? Great. Bully for you. Now get down from your high horse before it bucks you off. Sit your keyster right back down on that lumpy office chair you got at Staples ten years ago for $19.99 and start pounding the keys.

And you can bet that your magnificent contribution to arts and letters from yesterday will soon be a long lost memory. And that's OK. It's as it should be. You take the good with the bad. You take your lumps. Just hang in there and keep writing. And then, some day, you'll be done.


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