Whenever I start a new project these days, I’m shocked by how much better I am than I was a few years ago. I know, on an intellectual level, that practice makes you better. But it’s still a surprise to feel myself making tangible progress. That’s not to say I’m good (at anything, on any level), because I’m certainly not. But I can feel myself developing as an artist, and it makes this whole journey feel worthwhile.
My writing style is becoming increasingly reﬁned, as I slowly ﬁlter out the plethora of mistakes I used to make. And lately, I feel two competing aspects of my writing beginning to converge. On the surface, it seems like they’d contradict themselves, but I think they are both helping me.
In many ways, art is about breaking rules, and every genius has earned that title by throwing convention to the wind. And every art student enters college hoping to do exactly that. But as I’ve mentioned here before, the biggest surprise of my college career is how much I’ve learned to embrace rules and technical craftsmanship. There’s a lot of freedom that can be found in studying great works and utilizing their structures, rather than making everything up as you go.
At the same time, I’ve also learned to ignore the temptation to work in realism. A few years ago, I was the stereotypical ﬁlm student who just wanted to make movies about people talking to each other. But some great teachers and opportunities have caused my creativity to soar, and now my best writing combines comedy, surrealism, and fantasy to create some truly wild stories. It’s another change that I’m thrilled about.
But the more I rebel against realism and create new worlds, the more I ﬁnd myself following established “rules” of storytelling. It’s like the more adventurous I get, the more of a classicist I become. When you pair utter ridiculousness with technical virtuosity (or something that I hope resembles it), it turns out that you can make something pretty cool. There’s no use ﬁghting these two sides of my creative personality, because they’re both a part of me. I’ll spend 2020 trying to get them to cooperate more, because when they work together, the results can be really special.
Rebel and Classicist, Depending on the Day