I’m in the midst of researching Charles Schulz, and am reading Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, by David Michaelis (Harper 2007). And have been thinking about how much I gravitated to the biography shelf as a kid in the library. I remember being inspired and excited by reading about others’ lives then. But as an adult, I read a biography and it’s always unsettling to some degree. Disequilibrium. A positive, really.
What is most standing out for me in this work is Schulz as an artist and in this there’s something I recognize, even while this same in him is exactly what is unsettling.
The passages that describe his work ethic–sitting, working daily–and his pleasure and tension in that, I find myself re-reading. Page 372: “He had an absolute faith in his craft, at the core of which was the belief that “a professional cartoonist has to have the ability to take a blank sheet of paper and out of absolutely nothing come up with an idea within five or ten minutes. If you can’t deliberately do that, then you’re never going to make it. You just have to be able to do it cold bloodedly.”
The phrase ‘cold bloodedly’ is interesting. There is always a type of detachment about certain decisions I make as a writer–and so much of writing is that: decisions. There are multiple points in a novel when I make a choice and am left with “the path not taken” and having to detach myself…but of course, it is balanced by commitment to the path taken. Commit to the idea at hand, and pull it out into the light of day. Let it gulp for air and begin to speak. Sometimes it surprises with its words.
Oh, and it’s my 45th birthday today. I think it’s going to be the most interesting year of my life. So far…