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Inspiration from a Genius

So, quick moment of disclosure: I am a pretty hardcore musical theatre geek. This is a side of myself I have been rediscovering recently. And when I say “musical theatre,” I’m aware that the initial connotations are the likes of Wicked and 42nd Street. No, I like my musical theatre dark. I wrote my college thesis on Stephen Sondheim and, more importantly, on his show Company.

Last night, I was watching the DVD of Company, the John Doyle production with Raul Esparza, a show that I saw in New York last year. And, like the rabid fan I am, I was making my way through the special features when I came across an interview with Sondheim and a quote that I think is an inspiration to all writers.

The interviewer asks Stephen if it is difficult to be “a living legend” and to feel the pressure of such an impressive Tony-and-Pulitzer-winning back catalog whenever he sits down to write. This might not be a situation familiar to the likes of us (just yet), but his answer applies to you (yes, you!) this very second:

“I try to pick something that frightens me. I think a writer should frighten himself, otherwise you tend to write the same thing again.”

This is your writing reminder of the day (from a freaking genius, no less!) to take risks, make bold choices and write from that vulnerable, raw place in your heart that you swore you’d never show to anyone. Only then will you emerge with a piece of vibrant, breathing, authentic fiction that’s worth reading.

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  1. Mary’s avatar

    any new contests coming up?!
    maybe another Catching Fire?!

  2. Mary’s avatar

    Mary… Sorry! I’m cooking up some contests right now but, alas, no more copies of CATCHING FIRE. Maybe my winner will want to share? =)

  3. Jennifer Hubbard’s avatar

    I was just thinking that my new project scares me, and the one before it scared me too. Good to know I’m on the right track, according to Stephen Sondheim. :-D

  4. Mary’s avatar

    And if Stephen Sondheim gives you the green light, just sit back and enjoy… you’re officially sanctioned by genius!

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