Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Are We There Yet?

A destination is an anticipated arrival at some place, status, and/or attitude.  The person doing the anticipation has with some deliberation set forth on a journey from Point A to a destination.  The anticipator may also have discovered awareness of embarkation without having experienced an official goodbye party or emotional send-off.

To a person such as yourself, with a considerable investment in story, destination is to you and those like you as a dividend is to the investor.  In concert with the possibility that your investment might have some positive results, there is also the fear that circumstances will obliterate it.  

To your knowledge, there is no Federal insurance agency guaranteeing that time invested in story will produce a profit much less a return on the original investment.  You are on your own.  Extending the metaphor, your eggs are in one basket.  You have no specific feel for when this journey began, although you do have specific memories of bridges, burning in the background.

The best you can come up with is a rainy afternoon when you were in the fourth grade, being read to by Mrs. DeAngelo, whom you approached after she'd read a good number of pages in, as Huck Finn was heard to say a few years later, "That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth."

You, who at the grade four level had already entertained making a living as a restaurateur and an aeronautical engineer, recall asking Mrs. DeAngelo if Mr. Mark Twain did indeed make a living from writing such things.

With consideration and appreciation, Mrs. DeAngelo said Mr. Mark Twain made a living from writing such things but that was because he had extraordinary talents and experiences and one--meaning you--should not expect to make a living from telling stories until you knew your way around them to a much better degree than you did then and there at Public School Number Ten in Perth Amboy, New Jersey or anywhere else you might happen to be.

Mrs. DeAngelo was well aware of persons from California, thinking they could do things such as that, and while she did not wish, as she put it, to be a wet blanket, she invited you to consider that Mr. Mark Twain had been brought up on story in the first place, then had gone forth on a purposeful journey of discovery on which he learned many of the things he needed.

You also recall asking her if there was still time for you to learn the things you needed.  She scanned you with great care.  You were short, an ungovernable flop of dark brown hair refusing to leave your forehead for protracted periods of time.  You were not happy because of your growing impression that you were not going to be back in Los Angles (where you felt you belonged) at any time soon.  Mrs. DeAngelo said she did not have much experience with such things, but saw the possibility that you might be able to make some of your living that way, but you'd have to hustle to make up for lost time.

So perhaps that was when you did step off the curb, as it were.

Whether abstract or specific, destination resonates with implications of some goal, of a journey, of a plan.  In true, dramatic fashion, many destinations, including most of your own, are arrived at only after detours, obstacles, and opposition.

When we reach destinations, we are often travel weary, perhaps even a bit disillusioned by our first glimpse of the place we'd striven to reach.  You were, in fact, bordering on disillusion those years when you'd earned enough credits to allow you active membership in The Writers' Guild, its significant benefit for you the ability to finance a VW Beetle with a sunroof and an FM radio, which a great friend of yours called decadent.  You were disillusioned about many of the places where your work was published or performed, but you were always re-illusioned by the siren-like call of projects that came calling, knocking on the doors of your mind, asking for a destination.

"Is this it?  So this is it--the Holy Grail, graduate school, romance, publication, Santa Fe, independence, or whatever."

You are by no means disillusioned by the destination you appear to have arrived at today, August 13, 2014.  To Mrs. DeAngelo, or rather her ghost, because she is long gone to destinations reserved for fourth grade teachers of students of your generation, you ask if there is any chance persons can make any semblance of living from the things they write.

Once again, she scans you, noting you've put on some height, a few wrinkles, some smatterings of gray.  She recognizes you, all right, and tells you you'd better hustle because you got such a late start.

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