I’m reading Michael Chabon’s Manhood for Amateurs, which, of course, I’m loving. I’ll have more to say about it when I finish, but I wanted to share this, because it’s stuck with me since I read it in the first few pages of the book. It’s from the essay, “The Losers Club”:
Every work of art is one half of a secret handshake, a challenge that seeks the password, a heliograph flashed from a tower window, an act of hopeless optimism in the service of bottomless longing.
An act of hopeless optimism in the service of bottomless longing. I love that. When I decided to write a novel, that’s what it was. I knew the odds were against me getting published from the start. I’ve written a quirky literary novel about love and family and mental illness. There are no vampires, no zombies, no secret incriminating documents, no only a few steamy sex scenes. I wrote it anyway. And now I’m revising it, anyway. My act of hopeless optimism.
And here’s what I think. The world needs more of this particular brand of crazy. The naysayers will always be here, telling us to be careful, to stop, to consider all the valid reasons not to leap. The cynics are everywhere, and they’re noisy. My favorite professor once said to me after one of my stories was rejected, “Fuck the naysayers, j. Don’t let them turn you around.” It was good advice. I have it posted on the bulletin board above my desk.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I’d rather be engaged in an act of hopeless optimism than standing on the sidelines, telling people braver than I am to be careful, to stop, to consider. I’d rather leap and fall, believing my net will appear.