This morning I posted a whine on Facebook – – all the things I need to do around the house, what with my wife suffering cancer, my aching, cartilage-less left knee – – and oh yeah, the impact of all this on my writing. As I re-considered that post while eating breakfast, I had to ask myself: Why do you feel the need to complain? Isn’t that selfish? Don’t you still carve out a couple of hours a day to write, to market your writing? Well, yes. Yes, I do. I’ve begun to complain; it’s a habit and not a good one. Yes, it is selfish, wishing I had more time to my personal devices. And yes, I’m still writing, and, I think, writing well.
We writers tend to be a solitary lot. But why do we loners seek out the muses that traffic in fiction’s alternate realities in the view-from-afar of memoir, of essay, of journalism and history?
Largely, I think,we’re loners and we write because we’re perfectionists, idealists, those who wish the world to be other than it is. Certainly, this is the seed that engenders in us the exaggerated, otherwise worlds of fiction, the broad brush view of life that comes to nonfiction writers. But this desire for something more, something better, some greater sense of understanding, doesn’t come to those for whom life is easy; it comes to those who have slipped and fallen, to those who have suffered a few slaps in the face from violated friendships, from scholarly failures, from career and family disappointments – from the abyssal pool of slights and lack in an imperfect world.
The muses are the personifications of the various arenas of knowledge and artistic expression, there to reveal themselves to a more-than-slightly off-center world. So we writers, whatever our personal damage, choose to have one foot in a world that seeks to be better, the other foot in the clear pool of personified art, of knowledge. As such, we’re the bridges between those two universes. So what? you say? That’s just philosophical meandering? Not if you embrace the slights and slaps you suffer, ground yourself in them. That secure foothold in this world’s eddies will allow you a clearer picture of what your muses have to offer you and the world.
Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.