Renewing the Writing Vows
It's the time of year, though it could be a different time of the year for you, when I reaffirm my desire to be a writer. I renew my vows, so to speak. Is this writing life any more or less mad than it ever has been? Does it still make sense to write things in notebooks, to sit and read, and stare out windows? Are the myriad and inevitable obstacles to getting to the page still worth attempting to overcome? The constant struggles? Can I still live with the feeling that so many people think what I do is daft? And what all about those things extra to writing that are part of the writing life? (Blogging, writing articles, attending events, speaking, giving readings, maintaining a so-called social media presence). How important are these things to the life of writing vs how much do they take away?
How to reaffirm one's faith in writing? Read.
I open Mary Ruefle's Madness, Rack, and Honey to the essay, “Someone Reading a Book.” She says,
“We are all one question, and the best answer seems to be love – a connection between things. This arcane bit of knowledge is bespoke every day in to the ears of readers of great books, and also appears to perpetually slip under a carpet, utterly forgotten.”
She also says,
“Did I mention supreme joy? That is why I read: I want everything to be okay.”
In another essay on Emily Dickinson she writes this:
“J.D. Salinger once remarked, “A writer, when he's asked to discuss his craft, ought to get up and call out in a loud voice just the names of the writers he loves,” and then he listed the names of the authors he would call out, and on the list of sixteen names there is only one woman, and her name is Emily.”
As a way to reaffirm your faith in writing? Call out sixteen names.....Perhaps they will all be women.
Sometimes I worry about this thing I seem to do, going between genres. A book of poetry, some essays, a novel, some other essays. That can't be the smartest career move, can it? But In Cooling Time Wright says:
I like to come and go through different doors more than I like to throw my weight against the same one every time only to discover it was hollow as Hollywood or never even locked,
and I like to change the locks once in a while, too; but it isn't just about keeping it interesting for Author, Author or Dear Reader;
it is about how differently things actually play out if you come and go by different portals, long live la difference; as for transcendence, well baby, that is the sun's job.
So, here's to going through whatever portals one is able to go through. Here's to calling out the names of authors you love. Here's to the connection of things, to love, and to wanting everything to be okay. Here's to sticking to this writing life for the long run. In Ruefle's book she quotes Glenn Gould:
“The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline, but a gradual lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.”
Lastly, I'll just point out that my book is available for pre-order. (Link on the sidebar). It's a few months away, but pre-orders can be really important in getting the buzz going on a book. Many thanks, Shawna