Inspiration for a life's work

I simply have to share this extraordinary video. As writers, we can spend years working away on the one book. Sometimes loving it, sometimes just wishing it could be accidentally consumed in a house fire. And when we finally think we're done, the gruelling edit process begins and that, too, can last years. After that, we're into the marketing and promotion phase. But all this is nothing compared with sculptor Scott Weaver's commitment and achievement. He has spent almost my entire lifetime building this incredibly detailed and complex sculpture of San Francisco, out of toothpicks! But what's most impressive is that the sculpture is kinetic, taking ping-pong balls on various tours through the city's districts. Take a look.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/22461692 w=525&h=394]

When I see something like this, after I overcome my amazement and incredulity at the sheer talent of what this artist has done, I start to reflect on my own work. And more to the point, I start to reflect on my own dedication to my craft.

I once read that Picasso was banned from some galleries because he used to try and improve his paintings where they hung. It's hard, sometimes, to stop, and certainly Scott Weaver is constantly adding to and improving his own work.

However for writers, once our books hit the stores and go into the hands of others, there's nothing much we can do, even if we see compelling room for improvement. So I take two lessons from Scott Weaver's work that I intend to apply today:

1. Give it your everything in the first place. Take as long as you need to take to make it the best it can be. And look for new places, characters, intricacies in your book that you can love, to keep up the motivation. Add little pieces of you to make it personal and special (like Scott added his own, his wife's and his mother's time of birth to the clock tower).

2. Keep going. I'm proud of my novella Airmail, don't get me wrong. I still love that book and I humbly think it's a fun read. But I couldn't improve it now, even if I wanted to. It no longer belongs to me because it's in your hands. So I will continue adding to my body of work with new stories and new novels. And if I apply myself, keep learning, keep reading, let's hope each new work will be better than the last.

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