Beethoven is quoted as saying, ‘Only the pure in heart can make good soup.’ It strikes me that this quote resonates with the necessary conditions to create good writing.
Why? Because the quote apparently arose when Beethoven fired ‘an otherwise good housekeeper because she had told a falsehood to spare his feelings.’
In other words the woman didn’t speak from the heart. She was not genuine.
I recently edited someone whose characters weren’t genuine. I repeatedly scrawled in the margin ‘don’t believe it.’ The characters lacked emotional truth and as a result, the piece wasn’t engaging.
My notes to the writer suggested digging deep into the characters. There is a theory that the characters we create are aspects of our own selves: I was telling the writer to dig deep into their own psyche. This can be an extremely uncomfortable experience and for some hopeful writers, impossible.
In this week’s Broadcast, Tom Sherry writes fluently about the need to support writers in relation to BBC’s New Tricks cast members. Sherry uses the expression: ‘we expect them (writers) to lay bare their soul.’
And laying bare her soul is exactly what the housekeeper didn’t do. And what writers must succeed in doing if they are going to engage with an audience.
Because an audience knows when soup is good and when it isn’t.
For a more frivolous view of soup see: http://youtu.be/ZiXFoLflVGg