“Play with the blood.” – Rodrigo, Mozart In The Jungle
I’ve been watching a show called Mozart In The Jungle, which is a comedy about classical music. I’ve talked about this before in a blog post called Of Blood and Passion, but the actor who plays Rodrigo, Gael Garcia Bernal, goes on and on about “playing with the blood” when talking about true musicianship. I don’t know whether the idea comes from the show, or from Bernal himself. The character struggles with it even as he preaches it, but it made me think about how it can be applied to my own life – how do I “play with the blood” in my writing?
If I were being completely truthful about it, my writing is anaemic. I don’t roar, I whimper. I don’t fight, I grovel most unwillingly. I’m even beginning to realise, maybe it shows I’m meant to be amateur. If I had the currency of your choice for every time I didn’t submit a piece of writing to some person or establishment who/that specializes in publishing writing, I’d be a rich woman. I don’t play with the blood. I am too busy worrying how to dress the wound, how much would it cost to get a tetanus injection, do I have to get tests done, how do I fit in the wound logistically when it comes to living my life…
You don’t have time for doubts like these when you play with the blood! You just keep trying, keep demanding to be heard, until you are heard. You don’t complain about not being able to do it on a blog for 2.5 years. You do it. You do it. You do it. And Repeat.
This blog was initially supposed to be a book, an idea I conceived of in 2012. I started blogging it properly in 2014. I wrote the book of it finally in 2015. I’ve gone through several edits of that manuscript, but it’s still to be published. A month ago, this Of Opinions project seemed so past its prime, writing such personality-driven essays seemed so mundane, that I believed it had run its course. No use trying to flog, uh, gently pat a dead horse.
See, I can’t even quit with the blood! I can’t finish this, and go do something else, or do this properly. Perhaps, it’s plain old procrastination (you know, that more interesting word for ‘lazy’). A reason for procrastinating is simply because you don’t want to do it. And I guess, I am so unsure of letting this Of Opinions thing out of the stable (to continue with the horse metaphor) and into the big bad world of Kindle publishing that I’d rather just let it lie here in potential internet oblivion.
As for the craft itself, writing with the blood would practically entail, apart from an unquestioned desperation – cleverness, erudition and flow. No, those are not some hoity-toity adjectives for hoity-toity literary novels, they apply to everything that’s valued in contemporary literature. However, to really, truly, write with the blood you would need to graduate to a higher level of – rawness and simplicity. I am not going to name them since our tastes might differ, but the true masters of this art embody these two qualities thoroughly. We don’t admire them for their knowledge or how clever they are with their plot, characters, lines etc. We admire them because they write with the blood – it is completely authentic, there is nothing self-consciously done about it.
I’d love it if my Spanish-knowing readers here could enlighten me on this “playing with the blood” idea, if it exists in your cultures at all. I find myself quite obsessed with it.
What drives you to make your art?