Thursday, May 19, 2022

When You Got Serious and When You Didn't Part I

 In the earlier stages of your writing life, you'd experienced a few minor satisfactions that came from being published.  That the venues for these publications were well below your hoped-for targets only served to remind you of the hurdles you sought to overcome, the growth you hoped to achieve.

You have a vivid memory of a college-level writing class you'd been at some pains to be admitted to.  The professor had  reading assistant who, he told us, had earned the position because she had some publications for her own work.  One of your submissions for class credit came back with her handwritten marginalia:  This story is ready for publication.

You were at most twenty at that time, awash with omnivorous reading and aflame with the desire to see your work appear in publications reflecting your interests and aspirations.  Even then you understood that the story you'd submitted for class credit was not remotely ready for publication.  So far as you were concerned, publication was a serious business.

For some considerable time, the things you wrote struggled under the weight of your seriousness.  The scant few things of yours to find their way into publication had one thing in common.  You were more concerned with the pleasure of writing them than their ultimate publication.

Flash forward to your last year of the twenties and the publication of your first novel.  This was by no means the first longer work you'd completed in the belief it was a novel, rather it was the first sustained narrative you wrote built on the foundation of your experiences working with a traveling carnival and the awareness of supportive emotional support from the topic, its characters, and the relationship between the reality you experienced and the fictional reality you attempted to evoke.

Flash forward two years, at which point you stood before a display of paperback novels in San Francisco, a city of great importance and affection for you.  In that rack, you saw three novels you'd written pseudononymously and one with your own by-line.

At about this time, many of your friends and associates began to ask you the same question:  "When are you going to get serious?"

Alas, you listened, triggering a long stretch of your attempts to write seriously.  What pleasure can there be for you in seriousness?  Yours is not a serious nature, it is a fun nature.

More to come on this important stepping stone.  For instance, how can you be serious about something that consistently supplies you pleasures?  Don't you take writing seriously?  Why would you persist in trying to achieve ability that has to be coaxed and nourished at every turn.

Leave it for the moment at this:  To undertake writing is the equivalent of taking on a puppy.  One of your first puppies was a notional and preternaturally bright blue tick hound.  Indeed, her son, whom you named Edward Bear, graced you with a life that shone with writing-related metaphor from which you to this present moment draw insight.

Your most recent puppy, a feisty mix of Australian Cattle dog and Australian shepherd, still appears to you in dream and memory, bestowing gift and insight.

Another parallel go go along with your writing experiences resides in the formal education you got in institutions and the education you got in used bookstores, carousing with writers, and working your way through untold thousands of pages wrenched from your typewriter, balled into wads, tossed toward some waste receptical.

All the while, you were moving away from seriousness.

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