Sometimes you need to royally fuck some shit up if you want to make something bigger and better. You need to destroy to create, or to put it into the words of one of my poems, “Sometimes you’ve got to knock down a house if you want to build a home.”
It’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately, at least in part because I’m newly single and so I’ve been doing all of the boring stuff you need to do to give yourself a decent foundation. I’ve been rearranging my “office”, filling bin bags with shit and sorting a few bits of paperwork to make sure that the cat’s still covered by pet insurance.
When I was out in Spain with my dad, we had to destroy to create. There was a crawl space beneath his house out there, but it was filled with rubble and the entrance was tiny. We had to knock a bigger hole in the wall, break apart rubble and pack it into construction sacks. It was a lot of hard work, but we made more of a dent than we were expecting and by the end of the holiday, the crawl space had turned into a storage area complete with a door, shelving units and concrete floors, although you still had to crouch to get in there.
Editing a book is like destroying to create, too. In fact, a good editor (like mine, thanks Pam!) will basically do their very best to tear apart your story and to point out all of the flaws. It can be disheartening at first, especially if you’re working on your debut, but it’s also a rewarding process that makes the end result so much better.
As a society, I think we see destruction as a negative thing. That’s certainly true when it comes to something like religious fundamentalists destroying priceless historical artifacts, but not so much when it comes to say knocking down a dilapidated old building that’s no longer fit for purpose so you can put something new in its place. It’s all a matter of perspective.
I’ll leave you with the words of American novelist and screenwriter Jerry Stahl, who wrote a memoir of addiction called Permanent Midnight. He said, “Destroy your life; then put it back together.You’ll get great material, meet some fascinating characters and – side benefit – the skills you develop will give you greater compassion, insight and range with the people you create on the page – or run into off of it.”
So in other words, go ahead and fuck some shit up.