Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Write to Write

A short inspirational story for anyone who writes.

I'm reading LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA, but despite the fact that it's an Oprah book, not because. Anyway. All that aside, I just wanted to share/remind you of this passage (which starts on page 193 in my edition):

Florentino Ariza enters a poetry contest, 100% sure he is going to win the grand prize, a golden orchid. But when the names of the prizewinning poet is called, it turns out to be a Chinese immigrant ("the Chinese," as Marquez calls him). The announcer can't even pronounce the winner's name, and when he reads out his own poem no one can understand his accent.

Of course everyone gets angry, since "that unheard-of decision threw doubts on the seriousness of the competition," but the judges stick by their decision, maintaining that the prize-winning poem is in fact perfect. When the poem is read again by the announcer, everyone realizes the poem IS perfect--so further uproar!! How could a Chinese immigrant express himself so perfectly in Spanish?! Clearly there was cheating!

"The Chinese" takes his hurt pride to the grave, where he is buried with his golden orchid. All he wanted in the world, writes Marquez, was recognition for his poetic talent. But he died knowing no one believed he had written his own poem.

One generation later, the poem is revisited by younger poets, who find it so gaudy and bad that they determine no one but the Chinese could have written it.

The moral to this story is two-fold:

1) There's no accounting for public opinion, which is both cruel and fickle, so try not to take it to seriously.
2) Have pride in your art and do it because you love it. Let other motivations be secondary.

4 comments:

Precie said...

Thanks, moonrat. That's a reminder that definitely bears repeating.

angelle said...

Good moral. It's something that I think most writers constantly have to remind themselves of. Do it because you love it first and foremost, and not because of anything else.

So... we still on for our date tonight? I need to get cracking on my first 20 pages for class so that I still have time to revise it 10x before handing it in like the anal retentive perfectionist I am.

Kaytie M. Lee said...

A very good reminder at this stage of my writing life--thank you.

The Trouble With Roy said...

I love that thought!