Mark Applebaum, the mad scientist of music, says boredom is good. His argument is that it can push you into taking roles and having experiences you wouldn’t otherwise attempt. On hearing what Applebaum does with experimental sound many people – and I ‘m one of them - ask, ‘This is amusing, but is it music?’ His answer is, ‘You should not be asking, is it music, but is it interesting?’ He has a point. I suppose. I’m still wondering about that. But it did get me thinking about how it might relate to being a writer.
Firstly, the boredom bit. In my case I don’t get bored when I’m writing. I might get frustrated with my inability to find just the right word, the pithy phrase, the knock-‘em-dead start/ending/climactic moment for my story, but that’s not boredom. Boredom results from jadedness about what you are doing. That says more to me about the ineffectiveness of any form of ‘doing’ to satisfy the inner person; the futility of finding one’s identity in what you ‘do’.
Applebaum’s second point had me questioning whether or not a piece of writing should be good or merely interesting. How on earth can you separate the two? It doesn’t matter how innovative or unusual the premise/plot/setting/ may be, If the writing is poor none of those factors will impress the reader for very long. A certain novel with ‘grey’ in the title springs to mind. Applebaum’s tongue in cheek performances make for amusing theatre, but is it enjoyable music? Could you bear to hear it more than once? In the same way bizarre or titillating writing may have shock value, but if it’s bad writing it won’t stand the test of time.
The fact is, if a book is well written it is also more likely to be interesting, keeping the reader fully engaged with both plot and characters and becoming one of those to be read again and again. When a writer is more interested in shocking or titillating the reader at the expense of fully developed characters and depth of language the writing soon becomes – dare I say it – boring. That sort of boredom certainly prompts me to experience something better to read.