Creativity, Bubbles and Rick Bass

The writer Rick Bass is as unique a voice in contemporary American literature as you’ll find.  He talks about writing in his article, “Danger.”  But he also talks about writing in the short story, “Cats and Students, Bubbles and Abysses,” found in his amazing story collection, The Watch.  Robby is a young writer fighting to tap into art that is original and creative; the narrator, a burned-out writing teacher, observes:

It’s like there’s this shell over Robby, this confining, restricting, elastic-like bubble; it’s like he’s got to write his way out of it.

Robby backs up, writes a sentence, writes two good sentences, hurls himself at the bubble, but the sentences aren’t good enough, he bounces back, maybe lands on his butt.  He gets up, dusts himself off, picks up his books, writes another sentence, hurls himself, bounces back, falls again . . . .

It’s frustrating as hell, I’ll tell you; at Robby’s age, and with his talent and potential, it’s pure hell.

Most of us get used to the bubble finally, just ignore it, and quit bouncing against it, cease to hurl ourselves recklessly against the thing, and settle for moving around cautiously within its limits as best we can . . .

But Robby’s still young: he’s imagining that he’s suffocating.  He thinks he’s got to get into that air outside the bubble or die.


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