Be Deluded. Be Grand.
The phrase “delusions of grandeur” generally carries a negative connotation. It connotes one who’s out of touch with reality. One who is arrogant. One who expects the royal treatment.
It can be all of those things, but I want to put a twist on such notions. I posit that a writer needs to seize delusions of grandeur when they strike, to even nurture those delusions and view them as the rare and precious gems they are.
After all, much of one’s writing life is spent in the opposite frame of mind, right? After suffering through states of crippling self-doubt, if not self-damnation, shouldn’t we be granted a moment of reprieve to dream that the novel we’re writing will capture Oprah’s eye, win a National Book Award, and be made into a movie by Martin Scorsese (with a cameo role for the author, of course). Oh, and then there’s Elton John’s Oscars party, where a Vanity Fair photographer will snap a photo with George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and the usually overlooked author.
Many a great actor has been inspired by his or her Oscar speech, conjured in moldy showers or on dreary bus rides to dreary jobs. Most of those actors don’t get the Oscar, so you can call them deluded, but where would they be without the hope?
The life of an artist is filled mainly with rejection. I think being a writer is like being a baseball player: if you have a .300 batting percentage, you’re a really good hitter, but most of the time you don’t get on base.
After a day of head banging synaptic sclerosis at our writing desks, it’s too easy to muck around in the gloomy thoughts that we’re not good writers–that maybe we shouldn’t have even embarked on this crazy endeavor.
As T.S. Eliot once said, “When all is said and done the writer may realize that he has wasted his youth and wrecked his health for nothing.”
Such realizations can only be balanced by the opposite: our hopes and dreams. Great creations are spawned by many things, but appropriate doses of fanciful reveries are sometimes underrated when compared to the lauded artistic battering rams of diligence and self-criticism. Great creations are fueled by our dreams. Our dreams, as crazy and seemingly delusional as they might be, are the best antidote to self-doubt; in fact, they’re a slickly paved pathway to vigorous and daring creativity.
“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it,” as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said.
If you’ve had a tough day of writing, I recommend taking a shower and rehearsing what you’ll say to Oprah. Toast your present and future self with the humble, generous remarks you’ll make when your kick-ass, awe-inspiring novel sweeps the world away. And don’t forget your glass of champagne at Elton’s. You deserve it.
Grant Faulkner is the author of Fissures, and holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. He has presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair, AWP, and LitCrawl, but is also available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.