Set Yourself on Fire

Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.
– Arnold H. Glasow

A somewhat creepy quote just in time for Halloween, I think. Can you imagine what it must feel like, to set yourself on fire? Let’s think of it in the literal sense, first.

There are the branches and twigs, all dried to a satisfying crisp so they will catch flame. There are the ropes, to keep you in place as the flames grow higher and start to lick at your feet. There is the stake to which you bind yourself, and the gasoline in which you douse yourself. There is the doubtful assistant, who ties you up, and lights the flame for you. There are your shrieks, though of triumph or horror for completing the task, we’ll never know.

Gruesome. Happy Halloween.

Now let’s look at this as a giant metaphor, because who doesn’t like a good metaphor?

As a writer, you must set yourself on fire.

There are your ideas (branches and twigs), happily fermenting in the back of your mind and ready to explode on the page. There are your goals and aspirations (ropes), to keep you going as the going gets tough and the rejections evermore painful. There is the blog to which you commit yourself (the stake), and the people who comment (gasoline), holding you accountable. There is your critique partner (doubtful assistant), who asks you questions, and encourages you when you’re ready to give up. There are your shrieks, though of triumph or horror for completing the first draft and having to start the second, we’ll never know.

I encourage all of you to set yourself on fire. Be the passion that brings your work to life, and others will feel it in your writing. As sung in The Sound of Music, “Nothing comes from nothing; nothing ever should.” What does that mean? It means that, like in the quote at the beginning of this entry, success won’t spontaneously combust for you. Success will be a result of an arduous process into which you pour your heart, soul, patience, and resources.

Set yourself on fire. Join NaNoWriMo, and feel the flames burn ever higher as you blaze toward the finish line. Good luck, and may the muse be with you.

Leave a comment about something you do to get fired up about writing. Do you listen to music? Do you watch a favorite movie or read a favorite book? Do you talk to people about your writing?

6 thoughts on “Set Yourself on Fire

  1. I just got re-fired up after talking to two published authors who were very encouraging that I should get my book finished. In a strange way, I also think writing fires me up for more writing — when I’m doing it, I want to keep doing it!

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  2. I just got re-fired up after talking to two published authors who were very encouraging that I should get my book finished. In a strange way, I also think writing fires me up for more writing — when I’m doing it, I want to keep doing it!

    Like

  3. Word Nerd – Excellent! I just had the same thing happen to me the other day… I was feeling pretty down about my work, and someone even said it was a tad cliche. But then Zoe and Emily really helped me out. I'm sorry I threw it out there at such late notice, I knew I was taking a chance. So thanks for offering to help, and I hope you know I'd love to be a beta reader for ya!

    Eliza – I really, really, REALLY want to this year, but I can't. I have a hard enough time getting to writing as it is with this graduate program, and I suspect that NaNo might make it worse. My goal is to finish typing up the second draft this month. We'll see how it goes.

    That said, I do have a NaNo account. You can friend me under "Worderella."

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  4. Word Nerd – Excellent! I just had the same thing happen to me the other day… I was feeling pretty down about my work, and someone even said it was a tad cliche. But then Zoe and Emily really helped me out. I’m sorry I threw it out there at such late notice, I knew I was taking a chance. So thanks for offering to help, and I hope you know I’d love to be a beta reader for ya!

    Eliza – I really, really, REALLY want to this year, but I can’t. I have a hard enough time getting to writing as it is with this graduate program, and I suspect that NaNo might make it worse. My goal is to finish typing up the second draft this month. We’ll see how it goes.

    That said, I do have a NaNo account. You can friend me under “Worderella.”

    Like

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