Write Like your Parents are Dead.

Back in graduate school, I had quite the struggle with the concept of content. Art can be anything in these post-modernist times. During my crits, I was never given the golf-claps like some of my colleagues would enjoy. Frankly, I’m quite glad I got my ass kicked. It only managed to develop me and by the time my thesis show was up on the walls, I had secured record-breaking attendance for the gallery and graduated second in my program. Nice!

One thing that got me out of my shell was advice from a professor of mine who said, “Paint like your parents are dead.” Whaaa?

Eventually, I got the message. Don’t hold back. Be dangerous. Disclose. Be naked. You simply cannot push envelopes while nestled in your comfort zone.

Yesterday, I had written a piece of Bizarro flash fiction intended for James Roy Daley’s Books of the Dead Press. It turned out to be too long for the site’s guidelines, but I still had a blast busting it out, and now, I want to continue on with future installments of it! Let me just say, the thing is out there. It’s mean. Read it here.

Whether you manaballers like it or not is neither here nor there, but I did feel a great sense of relief having written a tale off the trail of my beaten path. Sure, I may have lost Tweeps over this ditty, but I had also received some props.

Point is, art applies to writing. Writing is an art in and of itself. Reject your fears and hang-ups and inhibitions and battle them with your unfettered imaginations. And never apologize.

Write like your parents are dead.




10 Responses to “Write Like your Parents are Dead.”

  1. I just don’t share what I write with my family. I don’t tell them if I publish or blog or submit anything. They ain’t my audience. I don’t write for an audience. That’s not why I write. Looking for ego strokes kills my writing, neuters it. I don’t know why I think approval seeking will work now anyways. The lauds find the writer, not the other way round. That’s been my experience, and that’s what I see.

  2. Yeah, I agree with you, but I think my professor was using the phrase as a simile for casting away your learned and nurtured hangups and shibboleths, etc, that can hold you back from expressing what you never knew you could do.

  3. That’s the dumbest thing your Prof ever said, to you, and he probably regreted it right after. Trying to doll it up with intellectual make-up doesn’t make it any smarter. Absolutely ridiculous.

  4. No, you haven’t written the dumbest blog, Mark. It’s great advice, in my opinion. A quote that springs to mind is, “Publish and be damned!” The Duke of Wellington’s reply to courtesan Harriette Wilson when she threatened to publish her memoirs and private letters.
    We should think that with regard to our own work. Just let the story come out, publish, and let the story stand on its own merits. Writing is an art form. Some will like your writing, and some won’t.
    It’s all about the story, in the end.

    • Oh yeah, I was just joking with Lex. But I do believe when art-making of any medium, we do run into moments where we say to ourselves, “Oh… Maybe I shouldn’t do that.” That nagging nay-sayer is the figurative “parent” I believe my old prof meant.
      Like in my tirade regarding “writing rules” a few posts back, I just roll my eyes to all the literary warnings that populate the internet. I read them. I consider them. I heed what I think is good for my style and just ignore all the rest of it. And some of these are pet-peeving nit-pickery.
      English is so mutable and organic because it absorbs the languages of so many other cultures. It’s almost like the Borg in that respect. So, it’s going to evolve and evolution cannot happen hermetically.

      • Perfect example, and I’m sure you’ll agree, David. Ksenia. Siren Suicides works because it IS raw! That girl writes with some big balls. She doesn’t think, “Oh, I can’t have this in here because it’s a mirror scene.” Or, “I can’t introduce her or I’ll have too many characters.”
        Heh, and speaking of dead parents… Well, we won’t get into that without her in our company.

      • I LOVE Ksenia’s writing! Admittedly, it’ll need a lot of editing because of punctuation and there are some repeated words here and there, but the novel(S) is/are a fantastic read, and nothing like i had expected when i first began reading. She has a great gift for storytelling, and i love her to bits, as a writer, and as a person.
        I’m halfway there with regard to my parents: my mom passed away nearly 23 years ago. She had a stroke on my brother’s 21st birthday, died 2 days later, and we buried her on my birthday!
        She was 50, and would have been 51 a week after we buried her. My daughter shares my mom’s birthday, July 3rd.

  5. Gods, David, that’s terrible! Well, I can understand how that is something that just can’t easily be mended in a short time. Especially because of the coincidental circumstances. We DO write from our pains.

  6. Wow- this is great advise. This truth does apply to all of the arts. Well said! I can’t help to think what Miles Davis was thinking when he blew that horn.

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