Girl Fight, Good vs. Bad


Just watched Black Swan this weekend, starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. The movie is about the character’s psychological breakdown, which parallels Swan Lake’s story between the dark and light side of the Swan Queen (and no, I’m not familiar with the story). A subplot in the movie is Portman’s character’s struggle of technical perfection in ballet versus artistic expression.

Good Girl

Good Girl

When I started to write consistently, I had struggled with wanting to be the good girl versus the bad girl (not sure I’m doing myself any favors here). The good girl is being technically good at writing, and the bad girl is allowing myself to suck and the freedom to just write whatever comes out.

Which is better?

Bad Girl

Bad Girl

So I started with the bad girl (yes!). I started to write Nightfall, and allowed whatever to come out, come out. I wrote sixty pages worth of material.

Then I talked to my friend who’s constantly working on being a technically perfect writer. He turned me to books and seminars that taught me how to be a good girl, how to write well technically. They focused on structure, emotional techniques, how to build depth in character, scenes, overall story, and provided a mechanic’s dream full of tools. More than what any writer would use in any single work.

But deep in my heart, I felt the bad girl pounding, wanting to get out and expose herself.

I’d talked to a friend recently, and she told me she wrote a book with her eyes closed. As far as I could tell, she’d done little research on writing technique or structure but was inspired to write. I haven’t read it so I’m not sure of the quality. However, when I was listening to her talk, the good girl inside shook me and said, “She’s crazy!”

Was my friend unconsciously incompetent (the individual neither understands nor knows how to do something, nor recognizes the deficit, nor has a desire to address it)? Google the four stages of competence and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

To be fair, my technically induced friend does allow for inspiration, and my crazy friend could be a great writer. But these two people showed up in my life as symbols of two extremes because I asked the question:

Which is better?

What's coming out of your butt?

What's coming out of your butt?

In life, too much of anything isn’t good.

Humans can’t live more than a few days without water. But drink too much of it and people can die of water intoxication. Take in what you need. Leave the rest.

Today, I’ve used very little of what I had written during my purely bad girl days. But I learned what not to do, and in the process of my redemption, I had taken the time to learn. In doing so, I found out something interesting about myself that is the fundamental philosophy behind Bruce Lee: When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has not style, he can fit in with any style.


Learn what you need to learn. Leave the rest. You don’t and can’t know everything. Just make sure what you’ve learned doesn’t imprison your soul, that you can still express yourself wholly. Another words, forget what you’ve learned and just go with it.

As renowned photographer, Rodney Lough has said, “Art is the language of the soul.”

Good Idea vs. Inspiration

Living in a metropolitan area allows me to encounter tons of people.  In talking to them, almost every one I run into have a good idea.  Either they have a book they want to write, an invention that would revolutionize daily life, a hobby they'd like to explore, a business they want to start.  Just to list a few. Question is how many of those people explore or pursue it?

I'd venture a guess that it's 2% or less.

So what's inspiration?  Is it the same as a good idea?

In talking to all these people, a lot of them also have inspirations.  They have a book they want to write, an invention that would revolutionize daily life, a hobby they'd like to explore, a business they want to start.

Again, I'd go on a limb and guess that less than 2% pursue or explore their inspirations.

When you walk into a store, like a Walmart, you're surrounded by tons of merchandise.  Think about this.  Where did all that stuff come from?

A factory in China.

Ha!  Yes but no.  Go further back.  Where did any of those things--George Foreman Grill, flat screen TVs, gum, textiles--really come from?  Someone's mind.  Think about it.  A long time ago someone who loved fish said, "I'd love to have live fish at my house, so I can look at them when I come home."  Hence, fish tanks came to existence.

Any of you know how J.K. Rowling got the idea of Harry Potter?  She had a vision, an inspiration, of this boy.  She then spent the next several hours imagining the world of Harry Potter, spent the next five years writing it.

Look at all the movies that come out every year.  All of them started in someone's head.  Sometimes it took several heads to come up with the story idea.  But it got made and released.

The difference between a good idea or an inspiration becoming real is action.  Go out and do it.