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Writing and Non-Writing; the Lost Books

Nothing drives me wilder that putting a bunch of stuff somewhere, and then, a month later, not being able to find it.  Especially when it's a carry-bag of books I was in the process of reading.  I took 7 books with me in Oct/November on our trek to Kentucky and Tennessee just before the election, brought them back in a green student bag, stowed them in my study, buried them with other stuff, and then forgot them completely while I was busy gathering yet more books and starting them.

If you wait long enough you will forget why you are waiting.  I call this the "law of peace."

That's not directly related to misplaced books, but I will tie it in later. I noticed I was not bumping into the books-- I sensed their invisibility, but I was sure they were around somewhere on some table or shelf after some room straightening. One of the books was writing by Borges, so  I was not surprised it might loose itself in the labyrinth(a smallish one) of my house. But the hunt released adrenalin, anxiety, frustration, and negative tapes (that I thought Tony Robbins had dealt with long ago)/ The re-discovery of the books now feels not like success, but like a near-death experience escaped only by dumb luck.

And what was the purpose of these books?  To prepare for writing.  My whole life has been one long preparation for writing.  And how is that done?  Easier asked than answered.  Don't you just write stuff, then more stuff, and get better, and get read, and then die happy?  Well, maybe some do-- but I have issues.  Writing ethically, writing something of substance-- oh screw the list, I just have impossibly high standards.  Maybe not impossible for everyone because there are many writers I admire, but seemingly impossible enough to make me
.... silent.

I admire the advice that if you can find any excuse for not writing-- you should use it and not write.  In other words, writers write best when they have no choice, no ability to duck the task.  I don't know if I believe that or not.  Now that I am 60 I really don't care either, preferring rather to do what pleases me.  So, what would please me?  Still thinking on it....

I would not set out to write a "commercial" piece of fiction.  That is another non-starter.  The writing of John Crowley has given me some hope that good writing can exist even in a commercialized environment, and reach those who need it.  His audience.  An interesting digression, I think, that Pierce Moffett is not every man's Everyman, but a very specific kind of writer & mystic & intellectual existing in a precarious and estranged relationship to academia.   IE:  his is Every-Me, and those like me.

But going back to the above-- I have not forgotten that I am waiting to write something.  I have struggled in the snare, I have gotten angry, I have anguished, pleaded, but I can't escape it.

So it is clear to me now that I will string together some tens of thousands of words that no one is likely to mistake for a novel. Surely not me. But there is solace in the idea of being retired and writing my way to the promised land, to oblivion.

Perhaps if I write long enough, I will forget why it was I wasn't writing?

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
joculum
Dec. 15th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
The manuscript of poems that I eventually retired from circulation (and eventually plundered in part for Unfinished Ventures) had as its epigraph Karl Kraus's "Why does many a man write? Because he does not possess enough character not to write."

"If you wait long enough you will forget why you are waiting" sounds like a paraphrase of more than one of Franz Kafka's stories, of course. But also of certain teaching stories, and a corollary of one of the sayings in the Gospels.
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