This I Believe

John - Santa Barbara, California
Entered on May 2, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I was dying of endocarditis. I had to infuse my heart with antibiotics while confined to three inert hours of iv drip, day after day for several weeks before and after open heart surgery. I had a choice, twiddle my thumbs, or work, which meant revising old screenplays. During the recovery, miracle of miracles, hand in hand with feeling happy to be alive, I found joy in my work. When the drip had dripped it’s last drip for the day, I would pull the needle out of my arm and continue to futz with the words on the page, not even stopping to take a stroll around the house. Who knew that writing could actually be a pleasurable pursuit? The revelation brought zeal to my usually tedious, expectation-riddled, writing sessions. Now, I may actually have a long shot at becoming a really good writer, OK, a genius.

This has led me to seriously question the notion that genius is in the genes. It may simply be the end result of unchecked passion. We all have a genius for something. Mine actually might be: the written word, typing, punctuation, cutting and pasting. My first drafts suck big time. Yet, I proceed unfazed, tinkering and shaking things up until some deadline or other intrudes and I’m forced to abandon the paragraph, the page, the project. I’m starting to think, even believe, in fact, that genius is just the rare opportunity to do something you suck at until the cows come home. You have to have a passion for the whole process, i.e., the ‘life’, the ‘day to day’, the brewing of the tea, the sweeping of the porch, the dripping of the life-saving drip in between the killer bouts of confusion-wracked ‘work’- all those lost hours spent deliriously surprised down some rabbit hole of your liking. Tolerance for the mundane routine of the craft drives me to perfection. Think about it, geniuses are geniuses at one very particular thing, that one small thing that they love to do (even though they most certainly, more often than not, suck at it). The sucking is as imperative as the succeeding. I always sit down at my desk (or in my former sick guy’s easy chair) with the mandate to write badly. Losing myself in my passion, barreling ahead unselfcritically, is my only shot at genius. This I believe.