By Evangeline Jennings
We were talking about what motivates us to write and the question was posed as an Either Or. Do I write out of passion, or avarice? Well, no. The simple truth is I write because I don’t know how to stop. I’m addicted.
But the question got me thinking about passion and I flashed on a favourite song, “Paninaro” by top pop combo Pet Shop Boys.
The soundtrack to my teen runaway adventures in Italy, “Paninaro” includes an excerpt from an interview with “the Quiet One” Chris Lowe in which he lists a great many things he doesn’t like before concluding that:
I don’t like much, really, do I? But what I do like, I love passionately.
I don’t like much either. The world is full of inferior product craving my money and attention. The interweb has a gazillion experts all ready to tell me what I should and shouldn’t like and exactly how I should think. Five star book reviews, for example, abound. And don’t start me on the media or celebrity Twitter endorsements. Whatever. I say no. I’ll stick to my own guns and I’ll make my own mind up, thank you very much. But what I do decide I like, I will love passionately.
I carry this attitude into my own work. I don’t like much of what I do, so I work hard to fix it, make it likeable, and elevate it – just occasionally – to something I can love and feel passionate about. That’s the only stuff I’ll let the world see. I won’t say I’m a perfectionist – because I can’t aspire to perfection – but I refuse to accept anything other than the best I can do.
That’s not to say I spend my nights laboring over comma placement or that I’ll never share my work with anyone. I bounce my ideas and lousy paragraphs off people I trust constantly. I’ve been known to consult an occasional online crit community. And if the time comes, I’ll happily work with an agent and editor as well. I consider all that part of the process, something I should do to the best of my abilities. Something I should do passionately. But nothing I do will make it to the book-reading public if I can’t feel that passion about it.
Chris Lowe, incidentally, was a big fan of Italian fashion. As am I. He also loved “Girls, boys, arts, pleasure.” Which takes me back to Italy again.