Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dave Eggers & Creativity

Here we are: just about done with the last Sunday of 2013. As I've done the past few weeks, I'm looking at creativity through the lens of a writerly role model. This time I want to know more about Dave Eggers and his creative processes. Eggers is another writer I feel a kinship to, if only because I read his memoir at the tender age of post-heartbreak/pre-college graduation. What he's done since is pretty awesome: not only writing seven more books, a screenplay, and making numerous appearances as an anthology editor, but also founding/co-founding an independent publishing house, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center, a human rights book series, a college scholarship program, and a nonprofit foundation that builds and funds educational resources for/in Sudan. (Hopefully I didn't miss anything!)

That's a lot of non-writing activity, but I still think we have something to learn from Eggers. All of this stuff that he's done, that he continues to do--it all propels humanity forward. He's gotten flak for being unapproachable and not doing interviews, but continually surprises interviewers with his humility and affability. He's been accused of selling out, yet I don't think people are complaining about the millions of dollars his "selling out" earns their nonprofits and foundations and scholarship programs (okay, these are all "his" things, but still--financial support is important in these arenas).

In his own words, "What matters is saying yes." We should do things, anything that we can, in the name of curiosity. In A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Eggers talks about the "luxury of place and time" that his generation has. "It's almost historically unprecedented," he writes. "We must do extraordinary things. We have to. It would be absurd not to." Why would we waste our brilliant expanse of time doing anything other than a whole lot of awesome stuff?

In later interviews he echoes this same sentiment: 
"What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips's new album is ravishing and I've listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people. What matters is that it will stand forever, long after any narrow-hearted curmudgeons have forgotten their appearance on goddamn 90210. What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who's up and who's down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say." 
What was that he said? What matters is doing and producing and meaning it. Have we learned our lesson yet? The crux of creativity - of creation - is getting down to business. Showing up. Doing our part. Putting our heart and soul into our work and letting it go into the world. I haven't planned any more posts for my Sunday creativity series, and after reading up on Dave Eggers I don't think I need any more. I can only guess that any other creative person I google and research will leave me with more of the same--sit down, shut up, and write my tush off.



  1. I love it that he does good things with his money!

  2. I decided to participate in Speak easy,yeah write because I felt I was missing something which is the beautiful writing of all these creative people. Now that 'I'm in I have no plans to leave. I hope you'll let me stay,even if my writing is less than impressive.'

  3. Eggers is on my to-read list: here's to more creativity this year!

    1. Awesome! I'm reading A Hologram for the King right now. Only 50 pages in and I'm sold.