Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Taming the Chimera Within

Every writer is intimately acquainted with the inner chimera. Greek mythology describes a chimera
as an animal made up of parts from three unique animals. A goat. A snake. And a lion. Totally believable, right? Well, what seems absurd almost always makes sense to a writer. Writer imaginations can conceptualize anything.

In the Iliad, Homer paints a picture of a chimera this way, “a thing of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle, and snorting out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire.”

And this well-describes what authors sometimes turn into while reflecting upon our work, a concentric mess of beliefs about our talent and giftedness.

Let’s explore.

We have our goat days.

“I rock. This is the best prose I’ve ever read. New York Times best seller list here I come. I can quit my day job. I can start booking a world tour. I think I’ll give Picoult a call to let her know how super fantastic this is.”

I blame goat days on an overdose of caffeine and neglecting to pick up a book or being lazy by not reading words other than our own.

Then we have snake days.

Our rattling tail shakes the following thoughts around our heads, taunting.

“This is uglier than cat vomit. What was I thinking dedicating time to writing? My sentences reek of donkey doo. No one would want to read this. I don’t even want to read this. I should quit. I will quit. Drop the pen. Flee from the chair. Give up. Give in.”

Thankfully, we also have lion days.

“There’s something glimmering in this, something I can bat around with my paws. I think I might actually be able to work with this, mold it. It’s worth it to invest my time. To harness discipline and technique. To study and make a vow of tenacity.”

{Lion promptly roars into the bloated overfed ego of the goat belly while simultaneously chomping down hard on the snake’s tail. Silencing them both.}

As writers, we not only need to study the craft of creating stories. If we want to continue to succeed with integrity and grit, we must also learn how to tame the chimera within. There’s so much more that goes into being a writer than the art of ordering words on the page. There’s the reshaping of our souls at work. You may not have a chimera in your soul, but I bet you anything one lives inside your brain teasing out goat, snake, and lion messages.

It’s up to you which one you’ll listen to.

Personally, I’ve always benefitted from unleashing the lion. It’s how I tame my inner chimera.
How do you tame your inner chimera?




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