Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Coming-of-age

You were just informed today by the executive editor of the publisher of your forthcoming book that the copy editor had suggested the inclusion of yet another entry to your text, which itself is an enormous glossary of dramatic, literary, and writing concepts.  Copyeditors being what and how they are--and are you ever grateful on a personal level--yours was concerned that not enough readers of your work would know the term bildungsroman.

The fact that the word, Germanic in origin, is rendered in roman type face in an American, Canadian, or English text speaks with some eloquence to the fact of it being, as the Brits would have it, a not unknown word in English.  But copyeditors operate on a particular level of intelligence that is focused on wanting you to have things you need at hand.

You agreed to give the matter some thought, particularly along the lines of  producing a separate entry for "coming-of-age," then linking it to bildungsroman.  While you were giving the matter some thought, you were spending some time back in the sand box of your own coming-of-age, both as a person and as a writer.  Even though you are now officially visible as a person and a writer who has come of age, you still wonder if looks are deceptive; are you in actual and literary fact "of age?"

True enough, you are not told these days as often as you were in "those" days to act your age.  Being told that often provoked the response that although you might be acting out, you were not merely acting; what they saw was what they were getting and even if what they saw was not mature, you were not going to pretend to be mature in order to shut them the fuck up.

For a great many years, presumably years in which you were either coming in actuality to be of age or approximating that goal, you gave Reality priority over your own vision.  Relatively few individuals urged you to give your own vision priority.  Among these were Rachel Maddux (1912-83), whom you are proud to call your mentor.  She was more concerned than you about your vision, in some large measure because she was smarter and because she knew the importance of vision where you were so sure of yourself that you believed you had it to throw away.  She could see right through you and yet was always supportive of what you thought you wanted to be.

It does not seem that she has been dead nearly thirty years, in part because for you she is not; she is still essential to your coming of age, whatever that age might be.  She is still unlimited reach.  One of your favorites of her stories had the title, "The Next, the New, the Promised."  You think of that title in the strangest, most wonderful places.  You think of it every time you begin a new project.

At the times you were closest to her, you wanted the world of Reality, aching for it at every turn, but she has always been there to remind you about the nature of illusion and, thus, the wisdom of seeking the counsel of your own vision.

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