Anger as fuel


Am I right in remembering Wordsworth's definition of poetry as 'emotion recollected in tranquillity'? Taking 'poetry' as 'creative writing', I would say he was wrong. I can't see much creative work of value being forged from tranquillity. The forge needs to be redhot.

I'm writing Cromozone and it's tough going. I like writing to be new, to surprise me, and to be new it must be rebellious. It must subvert what you expect, what has gone before. The closest emotion I know to what's needed is anger - and it's anger with the humdrum language and storyline that pops out when you let your guard down. It yells 'not like that, that's tired, that's dull, that's been done before, like this' all the time, then moves you right on.

Some books end up as angry books, and angry can be a vogue, but that's not what I mean. I don't like angry books. They've stopped short of their potential. Anger's the fuel you burn up in creativity, and should be used up before getting into the finished book. I think of that finished, perfect, elusive book as something distilled - great heat and pressure (anger) gets the liquid bubbling, steam rises, and drop by drop great literature appears.

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