May Your 2016 Be Dangerously Weird

May Your 2016 Be Dangerously Weird

posted in: Essays | 14

“Follow your weird, ladies and gentlemen. Forget trying to pass for normal…woo the muse of the odd.”

That’s Bruce Sterling addressing the Computer Game Developers Conference back in 1991. Sterling is no late bloomer. At age 20 he published his first science fiction novel and co-founded the cyberpunk movement (think Blade Runner).

But he illuminates a pattern I first noticed with Sharon Kay Penman: Many “late” bloomers are driven, not just by passion, but by an obscure obsession.

Penman, an attorney, became obsessed with King Richard III decades before archaeologists exhumed his body from a Leicester parking lot. In her late-30s, Penman abandoned her lucrative career to write The Sunne in Spendour, a novel that quashed the politically-motivated viewpoint in Shakespeare’s play, Richard III. How many former lawyers have the courage to take on The Bard?

Other examples of late-blooming obsession:

  • Mary Somerville, a 19th century woman who found algebraic symbols so enthralling, she resolved to unlock their meaning (despite the threat of a straight-jacket).
  • Peter Paul Roget, who turned his compulsive list-making into the writer’s best friend—Roget’s Thesaurus.
  • PD James, Bram Stoker, and David Seidler—purveyors of murder, vampires, and a stuttering king, respectively.

That’s a lot of midlife-and-beyond weird.

Sterling has more to say on the subject. Here are some of his best bon mots to inspire your New Year’s anti-resolutions:

  • “You can get a hell of a lot done in a popular medium just by knocking off with the bullshit.”
  • “Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well-rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish.”
  • “There are reasons why you’re here. Learn those reasons. Learn about the stuff that was buried because it was too experimental or embarrassing or inexplicable or uncomfortable or dangerous.”

“Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird and don’t do it halfway, put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it. Have the artistic courage to recognize your own significance in culture!”

Thank you, Bruce Sterling. So let’s forget about losing weight, giving up coffee, and rising an hour earlier (yawn).

How about we just follow our weird into 2016?

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14 Responses

  1. Lindsay
    | Reply

    I laughed when I saw that photo of the spiky fish. Great post, and all true!

    • Debra Eve | @DebraEve
      |

      Thanks, Lindsay! I’m kinda crushing on Bruce Sterling these days. Am going back and reading his sci fi stuff I haven’t looked at for decades! He’s a great thinker.

  2. David Stevens
    | Reply

    Hi,
    I am a late bloomer however haven’t considered myself ‘weird’. Realised that Life is getting away so do something about it. I now Coach similar ‘mid lifers’ to get out of their Ruts & turn up the volume.
    Be good to yourself
    David

    • Debra Eve
      |

      You’ve got a lovely and inspiring site, David. Thanks for stopping by. I’ve got a passel of offbeat interests, so Bruce Sterling definitely speaks to me!

  3. Solid gold creativity
    | Reply

    Love the sentiment “follow your weird.” Thanks. I’ll put it to use today.

    • Debra Eve
      |

      Agree totally. Just love that man. Checked out your blog, Narelle. It’s quirky and inspiring too!

  4. Karen McFarland
    | Reply

    “Follow your weird, forget…normal…woo the muse of the odd.” I love it!! Maybe as a later bloomer we’re more comfortable in our skin and are then able to embrace our weirdness. We’re no longer worried about our oddity. After all, none of us are normal. Only it takes some of us longer to figure that out. lol. Aw life. 🙂

    • Debra Eve | @DebraEve
      |

      Karen, I so love your insights! In fact, I think we should all strive to be as weird as possible 😉

  5. Jennette Marie Powell
    | Reply

    “Follow your weird”–heck, yeah! I’m all about that. I’d also like to sleep one hour later in the day–unfortunately, that doesn’t work very well with the day job. Hope your New Year’s a fantastic one!

  6. Kassandra Lamb
    | Reply

    Love this! Yes, I will follow my weird in 2016!

  7. Bob
    | Reply

    “But Officer! Debra told me to!”

  8. Patricia
    | Reply

    “Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well-rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish.”

    That is awesome!

    Now, I’m off to find my spikes. Thanks for sharing and embracing the uniqueness that is all of us.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Debra Eve | @DebraEve
      |

      That’s one of my favorite quotes of all time, Patricia! So glad you liked it too. Thanks for stopping by.

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