Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Risky Business Is Profitable

To be the storyteller you realize best in your most protracted fantasies, you have to risk the tight-rope walk over the abyss between conventional sanity and risk.  You used to think the abyss was between sanity and insanity but the more you experience of each, the more you have come to realize that there isn't that much difference.  You have been variously crazy about a number of things, ways of behavior, and yes, of course, persons.  While you were being crazy about these things and individuals, you were among the few to know you were crazy; many of those about you thought you were pursuing vectors of your individual agenda.  Nothing crazy about that.

At one point, when you were discombobulated crazy about a particular young lady, your mother began to investigate with you the possibility of sending you to Italy.  Although you had no handle on the language, and only began to get one because you followed what you thought was an attractive coed across campus and into a room in Royce Hall, where she was teaching Beginning Italian, your mother believed you would not stand out as anywhere approximating crazy when compared to Italians.  This attitude of hers, you believe, ultimately cost you a trip to Italy; it was due in part to you becoming interested in a writing project that more or less kept you occupied day and night for some time.

You experienced a great deal of near craziness, or perhaps it was only early angst, by becoming involved with writing projects that took no risks and therefore had nothing to teach you about the risks you needed at the time to take.

Holding back invariably produces the kinds of frustration that lead individuals with potential for being writers into distractions such as booze and girls, but even those distractions become frustrations because the things you would be likely to do while drinking were utterly predictable and the girls, to their credit, began to discover your relative shallowness or they were aware of even worse, of you mistaking shallowness for depth.

Risk is a helpful agent in such times; risking all for a project begins to teach you that outcome is a tricky business.  What you want to do instead of thinking about the outcome is to enjoy the process of writing things where you took risks.

Happiness, whatever that word may have meant to you in the past or come to mean in the future is all about hours and days spent working at something so risky you can see no exit; it is the scatter of notes and notebooks, of computer files and handwritten pages that are surely the most remarkable treasure maps ever devised by the boy who was you when you were lured in to think that yes, you could do this.

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