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Jen Frankel - The Writer's Way

Jen Frankel talks about creative... integrity?

Never been one to stick to a single idea, or habit, or point of view.

Maybe it makes me seem a little flaky to some, but anyone who thinks so is really missing the big picture. Like George W. Bush -- sticking to a belief when new facts emerge to contradict or disprove it is a sign of weakness, not integrity. It's a failure of the ego overcoming common sense.

I won't say that's the whole story when it comes to my creative process. It's not really a question of integrity, or lack of it, that keeps me leaping from thing to thing. It's not even completely a sign of a critically short attention span. It's just the way I was made.

Jen gets too thin

A friend once told me it's important to stay thick in life -- ie. don't spread yourself thin. I thought that was clever and valid, and tried for a long time to do that, to focus and avoid distraction.

Unfortunately, it's just not my way. It's not workable for me. It, in fact, drove me a little crazy.

So I gave in and decided to go with my own flow. Now, when I'm writing, I open my word processor and start typing or reading whatever first struck me as important. A few minutes later, something else will strike me, so I open a new document and let the spirit move me...

I'm a bit confused about the whole concept of "muses..." To quote from something I wrote in my memoir Sincere Flattery,

So what exactly is a muse? I promised myself not to degenerate during this project into gender-discussions, although I guess thatís almost impossible when you use a gender-laden word like ďmuse.Ē I donít really want some filmy, vague woman looking over my shoulder as I write. Itís kind of creepy. And a male muse might be worse. I donít think Iíd trust him. And if I could trust him, Iím not sure Iíd like him.

-from Sincere Flattery, Jen Frankel (2004)

Inspiration is a far more quicksilver thing than an incorporeal outsider handing down sparks of insight.

Thick is as thick does

In the end, Iíve decided to forgo all attempts to focus, except in that I focus entirely on my inspiration and ideas, and let them tell me what to do.

On a given day, I may tackle ten projects, or none, but I donít censor where my mind decides to lead me.

I am more productive than ever, and, whatís more, I actually enjoying myself. I am doing what I want when I want to do it, and the freedom Iíve attained by doing so is reflected, I think, both in the quality of my work and the depth of concentration Iím able to bring to it. No more distracting myself while working on one project by thinking about what I should be doing instead.

I know Iím trying to make it sound easy, and itís not. I donít always get it right, and thereís always things like trips to the bank and grocery store, and annoying details like remembering to go to bed and put my clothes away. But itís better than itís ever been since I was a child and the only constraint on my time after school was done for the day was to make sure I was home by dark. So my dad had time to stick my feet in the sink and wash them down with Varsol to remove all the gunk Iíd invariably picked up running around barefoot at the playground. Man, those were the days.

Canít do too much of that anymore, or people think youíre a whole different kind of thick...


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