Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Accidental Man: Superhero or Fiction Writer

 A series of interviews arranged for you by your most recent publisher and your literary agent have sent you scurrying back over past events in your life for answers to questions about how you arrived at now.

In so many ways, your answers remind you of first drafts and of the essays you've composed for this site since 2007, a combination of your "get it all down without thinking" philosophy and your subsequent approach in which you work at something until a surprise revelation or discovery arises--until you're aware of something you hadn't known you knew.

Your middle initial, A. is for Alan, but it could well have been Accident, had you been constructing the character based on you (which you did in fact create but which was also created by a former student of yours who made you into a character who goes about solving mysteries).  Much of your life has had the denominator of accident.  Who and what you are at this moment makes perfect sense because the accidents, by your reckoning began in earnest around the time you were a junior at UCLA, meeting individuals who would cause accidents to happen to you, by which you mean events you'd not planned yourself.

One of the interviews questions observes your tripartite resume of writer, editor, and teacher, the former being what you wished, the latter two coming as complete surprises as a consequence of your efforts to become the former.  You can add that you are by no means content with the status you have achieved as a writer although that does not mean you have no respect for the distances you've achieved, nor indeed that you have lessened your expectations for growth.

Accident is a strong ally in the present result of what you are and how you became such an individual.  If you had not met or said or ventured...  All these if propositions resulted in choices of association from which new opportunities offered themselves.

You'd not thought to enjoy being an editor, much less had you thought to become one until one day an individual whose credentials you questioned was made your superior.  You'd had a few teachers you considered remarkable, but any thoughts you'd had about teaching seemed to have vanished when you attended a class in the education department with a young lady friend.

Now, by accident, you are to some degree all these.  As you answer questions about them, you recall incidents reminding you variously how short a temper you brought to the equation of you, how short in relative terms the fuse of your patience.  At the same time, your memories take you to comparison points with individuals you admired, how you used them as role models because they seemed to have the patience and empathy you lacked.

Your saving grace in this tumultuous world of accident and chance resided in your recognition of the differences between them and you, your envy of their patience and empathy, and your subsequent decision to try your hand at these seeming foreign things.

You must ask yourself if you consider yourself to be a reliable narrator.  Have you in fact grown from what you recognize as your naivete to a semblance of reliability?

Do you in fact tell yourself the truth?  Did you become a writer in order to make a pinata of the truth, seeing the moulds of story as a substitute for your best vision of what happened in actuality?  You've met one or two persons in whom truth seems subordinate to the need for momentary inventiveness.  These persons fascinated you; the memory of them continues to offer interest and attraction.

You are the new super hero, Accidental Man, forged by the street vendor offerings of excitement, luck, and the capricious nature of Reality as it flashes past you, on its way.

There is a wide Sargasso Sea of difference between the person you'd set out to be and the individual you've become, and yet each version is visible to the other and to the you who is able to detach, step back a few feet, and compare with some measure of objectivity.

You've heard some individuals and situations referred to as an accident, waiting to happen.  For your own part in the drama, you are a series of accidents that took place, busily looking for the sources of newer accidents yet, eager to set them in motion to gain the experiences of those happenings.

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