Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cheating, on Your Way to Philandering

You began cheating on Reality at an early age, even before you cold read, then begin cheating in earnest, or writing your own material, where you in effect moved beyond mere cheating into philandering.

The cheating began when you began to listen to afternoon broadcasts called "Twilight Tales,"in which a person named Eleanor Jean, who told stories slanted toward a children's audience.  You recall they had a woo woo or fairy tale effect, but recall only her pleasant reading voice and the importance of listening to the program as a personal adventure.

Even as you learned to read and were experiencing the pull of written story, you were expanding your involvement with radio one-off stories such as the thriller types, "Suspense," "Lights Out," and "The Shadow," as well as the serials such as "I Love a Mystery," "The Green Hornet," and "Gang Busters."

Because of the way your life has gone to date, many of the things that have happened to you, a number of things that have not happened to you, and to an unknowable number of things over which you had no say, much less control, you view Reality as random, bordering on neutral.

Another person might and should have an entirely different version of reality, seeing it as harmful where you see it as benign, dangerous where you see it as neutral, judgmental where you see it as having no horse in the race.

Yet another individual may see Reality as nurturing, supportive, accommodating.  This has little to do with who is right, its focus instead on one of the major motives behind why you write and your speculations about why others who have neutral or unfavorable views of Reality turn their hands, hearts, and minds to composing stories, probing essays, memoirs, and other, idiosyncratic expressions of opinion.

You can say this with certainty:  You write to create a Reality more to your liking than the one you encounter.  This is so even though you could with little provocation fill a number of notebooks with lists, paragraphs, and observations about this Reality that bring you pleasure.  Much as you write to create enjoyable realities and denizens thereof, there are times and places and things associated with this reality that are worthy of recognition.  The problems begin when you fear for the safety of such things.

Yet more real problems begin when, for the sake of story and creation, you begin to exaggerate or focus on some of these elements with a shifted horizon or other aspect of perspective.  True enough, some of your reading made you aware of historical ventures you'd not otherwise have encountered; reading also gave you facts dressed in interesting contexts.  But most of your reasons for haunting libraries were to find stories with a different Reality than the ones you happened to have been in at various times during your earlier years.

For reasons of self-image, the reality of story made it possible for you to enter worlds where you believed you could find more of interest.  Thus reading changed the way you saw yourself, the way you behaved in such realities as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Florida, delivering you back to what you considered to be the only real Reality, Los Angeles, but a different you than when you had left.

Puberty, teen years, college years were different Realities you tried, with some success, to conflate with the realities of the imagination and wish.  The most daunting Reality was the one in which you found yourself, somewhat like Dorothy Gale, realizing she was no longer in Kansas, when you acknowledged the reality of wanting to build your life around writing.

A good metaphor for that was your first experience at the yearly publishing spectacle called the American Booksellers Association convention, held then in the Shoreham Hotel, Washington D.C.  You entered an enormous showroom, suspiciously reminiscent of another reality in which you'd spent years, the booths, glitter, and come-on pitches of the carnival.  But this was about books.  

There was a printed badge with your name.  You saw booths manned by publishers whose books you'd been reading most of your reading life.  You saw booksellers, standing in line to get books autographed by authors you had proprietary interests in because you'd read them.  You stood in the booth operated by the publisher you worked for, talking to booksellers about all the books your publisher had published but in particular the one or two you'd acquired, edited, and seen through the process.

Parts of your reality are orbital.  You have stood behind a lectern at book stores, talking about the book you just published.  You have sat at a table, a pile of your own books at hand, while individuals asked you to autograph copies for them and their friends.

The real Reality in which you spend much of your day, preparing to enter the realities of your own creation, however neutral it may be, is agreeable, acceptable, often serving up a surprise that bowls you over with the joy of the younger you, listening to Eleanor Jean, reading stories on "Twilight Tales."

But the real work begins when you are in front of a screen or have a legal pad in front of you and a pen in hand, speaking to you of the fun that awaits.  There is even the promise of a badge, with your name on it.

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