Sunday, May 28, 2006

Seeking II

“Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, ‘This is the real me,’ and when you have found that attitude, follow it.” William James

I am happiest when I am writing. I have an office at the top of the tower of a downtown Victorian house. When I am there, writing or reading or just thinking, I am happy and content, “deeply and vitally alive.” In the last few years, however, I have gone there seldom. Why? That is a question that I have no answer for. Every once in a while I think what a waste of our money and a waste of a wonderful space for an artist or writer who would really appreciate it. I say to myself, or to the owner of the gallery, that soon I will start coming in regularly. When? When I send off the novel I have been working on for the last 15 years? When it is warmer or it is cooler? When I don’t have any chores to do? I tell others that I don’t have the energy to start another novel. I am too old. I struggle for words. Maybe this blog will satisfy. At a book sale or a used book store, I see the thousands of discarded novels that no one will ever read again. The world doesn’t need another novel, at least one by a writer with mediocre talent. I do comfort myself with the analogy created by Jean Rhys, author of Wide Sargasso Sea. She likened all literature to a lake fed by small streams like her and mighty rivers like Shakespeare.

3 comments:

Poor Mad Peter said...

I used to feel that way, too--that is, that the world didn't need another novel (especially one of mine! :) ), etc etc. It effectively paralysed me as a writer and I recognize it now for what it is, false and negative. (FWIW, the Artist's Way helped me; but it isn't for everyone)

The real question is, do you wish to tell a story, your story, in whatever form that may be, to another human being? Given that you're blogging, you could say that you are doing so, and you're right--it's fine.

But is it the only form for your story? Or is it possible that another form, say, fiction, is needed for some of the dimensions of the story that wouldn't fit in your blog?

When we tell our stories, whether we are little streams or great rivers (excellent analogy; the only thing missing is that we are in turn fed by that great lake), we are doing what we are gifted to do, and if we touch even one single other human being in doing so, if we open up a perspective to something new, something redemptive, then we have answered our calling and realized something holy and meaningful.

There is a time to be silent. But there is also a time to speak.

vixxxie1 said...

To stave off the feeling of overwhelming uncertainty, I tell myself that if only one person reads what I have written and enjoys it then that's enough. But it is fundamentally about you, and sometimes it's necessary to let things lie, to be fallow for a while. You'll know when the time is right to return.

Incidentally, I'm from Tales from the Reading Room, only my username is different in blogger.

vixxxie1 said...

To stave off the feeling of overwhelming uncertainty, I tell myself that if only one person reads what I have written and enjoys it then that's enough. But it is fundamentally about you, and sometimes it's necessary to let things lie, to be fallow for a while. You'll know when the time is right to return.

Incidentally, I'm from Tales from the Reading Room, only my username is different in blogger.