“If a true artist was born in a pigpen and raised in a sty he would still find plenty of inspiration for his work. The only need is the eye to see.” – Willa Cather
This line kind of reminds of a joke that someone told me about an optimist and a pessimist.
But – before I tell you that joke – let me tell you how I try and look at things.
I’m not just talking about writing, here. I am talking about life.
I try to look for the good in every situation. What’s the point in looking for the bad? You can talk about keeping it real – but as far as I am concerned REAL is really overrated.
I try to think about what I have, not what I don’t have.
Let me give you an example.
My day job is pretty stressful. I sometimes hear some folks moaning about how rough it is and how the place we work is such a terrible rotten place.
Well, I have shoveled fish for a living – back when I worked at the I.M.O. Fish Plant in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I stood at a loading dock and a dump truck full of freshly-caught herring would back up and empty its load on top of me and I would shovel until I saw daylight.
Now THAT is a crappy job.
But consider the alternative.
I’ve been without work.
Hell, I have been without a home and lived out of doors in my time.
So – anytime I feel moony and blue over something or other I just remind myself that I could always be back on the loading dock shoveling fish.
You have got to learn how to look at life and grin a little. Release your inner Pollyanna. There is always a good side.
So how does that play out in my writing?
Well, when I look at a character I always try to imagine brave and wild and crazy and capable of wondrous deeds.
Even the worst of us has a little valor hidden deep within his soul.
You just got to look for it, is all.
And about that joke…
It seems these parents had themselves a set of identical twins.
The only difference was their outlook on life. One was a complete and total pessimist. The other was an absolute optimist.
We’re talking total polar opposites.
So the parents called for the greatest psychologist of all time to come and help them.
“Dr. Phil,” they said. “Can you tell us what to do?”
“Well, it’s simple,” Dr. Phil said. “The trick is just to immerse them into the proper stimuli.”
“You want to run that pig around the pen again,” the mother asked. “Only a little slower, with a few less syllables?”
“Let me show you,” Dr. Phil said. “It’s a whole lot easier than telling.”
So Dr. Phil took the pessimistic child and he locked him inside a room filled with every toy that you could imagine.
Then he took the optimistic child and he locked him into a room filled with fresh manure.
“You leave them in there for a day,” Dr. Phil said. “That’ll straighten them out for sure.”
“Oh thank you Dr. Phil,” the parents said. “Is there any way we could thank you?”
“Just buy a copy of my latest book, would you?” Dr. Phil replied.
Come the next morning they unlocked the pessimist’s room and he was sitting there staring mournfully at all of those wonderful toys.
“What’s the matter?” his momma asked him. “Don’t the toys make you happy?”
“What’s the point?” the pessimist asked. “Sooner or later someone’s going to steal them on me.”
Meanwhile the daddy unlocked the optimist’s room and he saw that the boy was covered head to toe with manure. He was rooting in it and heaving it up around him like a hound trying to unburrow a fat old rabbit.
“With all this horse poop,” the boy said. “There’s bound to be a pony around here somewhere.”
So, keep looking for that pony – would ya?
And – while you’re at it – in the words of Phil McGraw – “Why don’t you buy my book?”
All kidding aside – my latest release UNCLE BOB’S RED FLANNEL BIBLE CAMP – FROM EDEN TO THE ARK is on sale at Amazon for 99cents for a limited time only.