It takes tremendous self-belief to write + to invent. It's not a life for everyone. Maybe you want to be the Caresse Crosby or Katharine Burr Blodgett of modern literature. Maybe you want to be you: a writer. When asked who my favorite writer is I am quick to say it's the Spaniard from Mallorca, tennis player Rafael Nadal, King of Clay. When I think of favorite, I think of form. Who has some of the greatest form in literature, in physique, in disciplinary output? As you already know, form can misinform. What may look like poetry turns out to be fiction and what may look like fiction turns out to be literally skydiving with red-lipped batfish. Beyond your passion and discipline, you must make your form so much more distinct than your peers.
Besides having extraordinary wedgies, aligning his water bottles in their proper coordinates and formations, and wearing hyper-colored tennis outfits (magenta pink, neon green, aquamarine blue), Nadal distinguishes himself from other players by training himself to be a left-handed player even though he is right-handed. Nadal is known for his high kick, shots with heavy topspin. The forehands of most tennis players produce around 1,900 revolutions per minute, but Nadal's forehand can produce 4,900. His well-placed topspin not only pushes his opponent off the baseline, making it difficult for the opponent to be in a good position to control the ball, but also makes it hard for any pro to return the shot.
Your literary wedgies can take place through writing about your vulnerabilities. Didn't Brené Brown say that vulnerability is courage? Perhaps you have a disability or writing weakness that you work so hard to hide from the world (the way President Roosevelt hid his paralysis from the camera's eye). Perhaps you can make a point of highlighting idiosyncratic writing and allow the world to laugh at you—and then you laugh at them later while you kiss your Australian Open trophy, as the rest the world watches. Or perhaps it's the way you organize your sentences so systematically that allows others to mock your ultra-obsessive compulsive disorder, but it's this unorthodox way of marking words on the page that distinguishes you from the rest of your peers.
What about the amazing, high-velocity shot, you say? I have seen that the best kind of shot, similar to Nadal's high revolutions, is the writer or artist who has transformed themselves into a magician, distorting the form so it becomes something else utterly and completely. Imitation for imitation is a sign that you are an imitation crab and showcases your lack of originality. Successful imitation that leads to transformation is the pink fairy armadillo of creativity. Often I hear: 1) "oh, my, god, she sculpted that horse from metal and it looks like petrified wood" 2) "his architecture doesn't look like buildings, but rather something sumptuous like a tray of sushi rolls!" 3) "he plays tennis so elegantly it's like he is a ballerina on the tennis court!" etc. When you let your craft be something other than itself so it morphs into something else (I addressed this in my previous Glimmer Train essay, "Literary Fabric"), you have become a magician. But poor imitation-turned-transformation can be quite ugly, especially if you don't know how to mix different chemical components together properly, whether those properties are literary or of physics, like the time you mixed vinegar and bleach together or the time you stuffed Panda in the C.S. Lewis closet in your story that didn't turn out quite right?
So what will it take to create your literary version of a topspin with 10,000 revolutions per second? Is it through trials and errors like Thomas Edison? Where you re-write your short stories in 3,248 different ways? Or you just simply sit at your expat writing desk and you come up with brilliant post-structuralism stuff like Gertrude Stein? Is it through punching in all your writing hours in one breath with lots of coffee like Jack Kerouac and hope the best novel will come out? To create the fourth or fifth dimension through writing and invite the reader into your otherworldly world, it's not easy. It's not easy to inspire your readers to leave their room and become the obscene Umbonia spinosa (which is an animal somewhat related to cicadas that appears to look exactly like a polychromatic, animated toilet plunger) or convert into an okapi, where their legs and asshole are made from the loincloth of a zebra, but the rest of their body is a hybrid between a deer and a horse.
It's not easy to alter the gravitational force of the existences of others or, more generally, alter the atomic components of a particle through literature. The ability to alter the molecule of others takes perseverance. And, what makes perseverance work? Discipline. What is discipline, you ask? Discipline is the ability to move your ass from a place of comfort to a place of great discomfort. Over and over again. Until you make it. If it's getting up at five in the morning to write, then that is what you will do. Discipline, ultimately, is belief in action. There is no room for laziness in molecular transformation.