Tuesday, June 23, 2015


By the time a writer has come to some measure of terms with the narrative craft, he or she has been subject to the equivalent of the shorts of advice, rules, and common sense dictates dished out in advice to the lovelorn columns.

Indeed, writing is much like being involved in a romantic relationship; there is a partner to consider, your entire vision of the cosmos undergoes change, you are no longer the same person you were when you were mooning about, wanting a romantic relationship or wanting to become a writer.

True enough, a number of individuals move on from the desire to become a writer after experiencing at first hand how difficult becoming a writer is and how difficult maintaining that status is.  And how many persons do you know who have no exes in their life, which is to say a former romantic connection of any sort?  

There is also a stage you like to think of as The Middle Game, where you catch your romantic partner looking at you, then, before you think to say "What?" you understand the meaning behind the look.  

This person is giving you the appraisal and subsequent judgment that however idiosyncratic and notional you both are, this connection is going to continue for some time.  Realizing this, you are humbled, but there are other emotions involved as well, perhaps causing you to remember how it was with you before this romantic partnership began.

The Middle Game applies to writing as well.  When you were casting about for a romantic partner, you had a certain set of ideals in mind, the perfect partner, or perhaps an acute vision of what your type of partner is.  Then you met someone who is at some remove from your ideal. 

There is nothing you can do about it because you have experienced the chemistry, and so, one by one, you back away from the generalities of the ideal and gravitate toward specifics, perhaps a mole on the back of the neck or a scar from a childhood skating accident or blond hair when brunette had been the ideal.  She will perhaps even have different tastes in music to the point of being bored silly by your tastes, which you have come to realize she has made accommodations as well.  You are reminded of the time you had no interest whatsoever in opera, but saw opera as a way of spending time with D., who was a music major.  In retrospect, you see her as one of the strong candidates for the go-the-distance, except that you did not see that at the time because you were still too occupied with discovering the idiosyncrasies and notions resident in yourself.

There is a Middle Game in writing as well, wherein you see that you are in too far and too deeply to consider anything else, no matter what might come.  There might, for instance, not be at this moment two publishers eager for your next book, which is a book you hadn't thought much about until the earliest days of this year and even then only in speculative terms because it had not started talking to you yet.  

There were times when you had ideas for projects, but they did not speak to you or, perhaps of greater accuracy, you had not learned to listen to them.  Now, there are voices all over the place, like friends at a party or when you are out on the town, say shopping for groceries and you are surprised by the litany of voices of persons you know, calling to you.

The Middle Game of writing presupposes you are at more or less your present age and have yet to have anything taken on, no story or novel or essay or book review or poem.  And yet, you write, embarking on each new project with that sense of enthusiasm so resident in beginnings.  

Whereupon, you become sodden with the doubt of the middle chapters, wondering what mistakes you have committed to this point that will cause this project as well to be rejected.  And yet, you write, attempting to write through the doubts until you recapture the enthusiasm that got you started in the first place, and screw whether it will be published or not.

Thus the end games, in both cases the most productivity, energy, enthusiasm, and self-awareness you've had, either as a lover or a writer.  There is not much in the way of difference; you are evolved into a different presence in either role.

The advice you hear from those knowledgeable in each aspect becomes things you have to take in, consider, then deal with on your own, lest you become too reliant on conventional wisdom and common sense and not on your own instincts as an individual in love with his craft and the potential of another person.

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