Monday, October 18, 2010


There are days when all you have to go on is the memory of enthusiasm.  Thanks to whatever the conditions and circumstances that got you into writing, more thanks yet to the times you spent bent over a note pad or a typewriter--remember that fire-engine red Olivetti portable?--or the computer, there is by now some semblance of muscle memory connected with the process.  On such days as today you are fueled by the enthusiasm of previous days, not the slightest bit dismayed or, even worse, thoughtful about the process.

Enthusiasm is so vital to the understanding of where the energy to pursue and question originates.  Because it was an off-and-on day of sprinkles, your thoughts were drawn across the continent and the years to another rainy day when a desperate fourth grade teacher read something to your class and after she had finished her reading, you asked her if it were possible for a person to make a living doing such a thing.  That memory might have been triggered by the 800+ page book sitting nearby, The Autobiography of Mark Twain.  More of consequence is the awareness of the enthusiasm from that day, which probably was an emblematic day from your point of view.  That detail stands out among the days between, when there was no present time enthusiasm, only some memory of it.

Story is vital.  So is unaccompanied cello suites of J. S. Bach, or piano improvisations by Red Garland.  So is an actor's performance in a play or film.  So is a song sung by Irene Kraal or Carmen MacRae.  So are all results of prolonged enthusiasm, say short stories by Louise Erdrich or Tobias Wolff.  In these details reside the enthusiasm that were part of their birth and part of their cumulative effect on you as you take your enthusiasm to work each day, or if lacking, borrow, tempo rubato, from the enthusiasm of an earlier day.

1 comment:

Storm Dweller said...

i could never see you as a person who ever lacks enthusiasm, though logic tells me that like every other human being on the planet you face your ebbs and flows too. If you ever do lack it, you fake it very well, sir, and roll right back into your flow without seeming to have missed a beat.