YOU ARE THE CAVALRY. And that’s the truth. I frequently refer to myself as a factory of one. And I am. And so are you, if you are a writer. In fact, just last night, listening to yet another free webinar about social media, scribbling away when I would have preferred to be watching something – anything – on demand on TV, I was chanting to myself my little mantra about being a factory of one. And it kept me scribbling. We are on our own here, folks, and that’s not the worst company in the world.
I look for creative inspiration everywhere. Maybe because that it because I am a redhead, one of whose genetic superiorities it is to absorb sun from sunless days (see my book on red hair for the reference; this is not about that). But I see creative inspiration in sentences about foreign policy, in the way my vet describes my dog, in how the gestures reveal themselves through generations. Why? Because I am a writer, which means that I am widely stimulated and can take creative prompts from pretty much anywhere.
And you can, too.
Some years ago, I saw my what at the time was my least favorite indie movie in a long history of indie movies. It was one of those rare nights out with a friend. We are writers. We both have daughters, we were both exhausted by life, and we both realized that we had not been out with a friend in way too long. (Note to this friend: I literally have not had another night like this since. Has is been 12 years? Please call). Anyway, about 30 minutes into the film we started to kibitz, and then in another ten or fifteen minutes, openly ridicule what we were watching, talking back to the screen. And yet just this morning I was reading a speech by the filmmaker and marveling at what that curious film apparently was in his career, where he is now, and what he has to say. He is a factory of his own and this movie was something he made, learned from, and moved on from in the way that factories must do.
And to me, what he has to say I this: There is no cavalry coming. You are it. And I kind of like that, here in my office, surrounded by my reference books and odd house plants.
I am the cavalry. And so I will take all the late night free webinars I can find, will type on, writing memoir and teaching others how to write memoir, all the time absorbing that inspiration because, as the filmmaker Mark Duplass says in his fine keynote address, “If you can accept that the cavalry won’t come, and if you can be the cavalry, it gives you a chance to be happy.”
ALERT: IF you are offended by the f-word, don’t read the Mark Duplass keynote address. If you read it anyway and are offended, don’t email me complaining about his language. Instead, try this: Just read the keynote and write on.