I was reading/reading about a poet originally from San Salvador named Roque Dalton. Besides the cool name (and his father was one of the Dalton Gang!), he wrote very fiery poetry since he was –besides being a poet — a Marxist and Communist. So a Marxist-Communist-Poet. Two hyphens, no less!
He was arrested early in his career as a provocateur and when he saw that he had not been brought in because of his poetry, he vowed to remedy that. From then on he would write poetry that would, in fact, enflame the authorities and get him in trouble. What a wonderful vow to make — to write things designed to agitate and vex.
We’re not all like Roque Dalton. But I think it might be worthwhile for writers to look at their inner authorities and ask themselves why as artists they’re so docile. Why not, for example, agitate and vex? Why not go against the grain? Why be so nice, so eager to please?
When I read YA novels and the outsider boy meets the decorous girl, my heart just sinks. I flip through picture books and long for that brave little train to crash.
Is behaving well working for you as an artist? If so, good for you. If not, why not surprise everybody including yourself and when you stop writing for the day and look back over the pages think, “Holy crap. I can never show this to anybody.” And then show it.
I need to get around to writing the book where the outsider taxonomist boy meets the girl who's a taxidermist. It would be a story of biology and dead stuff. It is entirely possible that I need more caffeine right now.