Saturday, October 24, 2015

Never Mind.

I think about my choices in writing. My predilection for antiquated language, ornamentation, complexity of syntax. Formal poetry, for gods' sake. Gah!

I think of D.G. whose own choice brought her prosperity during the time she knew she couldn't invest more in her writing than a shallow but marketable voice (when baby spit-up and diapers called to her more loudly than her art, which happens to all we who bear children and commit ourselves to raising them with love).

She wrote under a pseudonym until that time that she knew she could take the time to be herself on the page. Her eventual foray into authenticity was less lucrative only at first (everyone loved those books she had written under the pseudonym and which sold at the market near the magazine section). Eventually the new books sold too, and she bloomed into her authorship unfettered by fear or uncertainty. She had the approbation of the industry, however it had first been gained, and she let it grow her.

Now she is a bestselling author writing under her own name, and although she once advised me not to self publish and never to reveal to a prospective agent that I had once done so, her fourth novel as herself, as the real writer she is and wants to be, I see is published by no less than D.G. herself.

But her path, so different from mine, was carved by a woman who knew a thing or two about business and who let that knowledge guide her. That woman is not like me. I have the heart of a poet, which is of course pathetic. I determine not to say it, not to speak it and thus make it true, but it seems I am not motivated by anything but the word itself. Which will make me a writer only to myself...and to the few individuals who will stumble upon my books by chance (fate?).

I teach my students about Dostoevsky, the existentialists, free will. I teach them about how our need to exercise that free will will subvert even the most basic of our needs so that in order to assert it, fulfill it, we will act even against our own best interest. Such irony in myself embodying the purest example of such a tendency. Human indeed.

I think of my inability to be inauthentic even for a moment, a quality that in my idealistic youth I thought of as a positive trait. How even if I resigned myself to writing in a way that didn't honor my self, my intellect, my truth, I would be unable to muster even a single syllable when in moments of silence I sat down to the page. Knowing that my idealism won't pay the bills, won't eradicate debt that hovers like a low fog, I wonder whether it is stubbornness or ineptitude that keeps me from writing what I know would be consumed greedily by the industry, by its constituents. Never mind.

Because where I always land is here: awareness of the privilege of this variety of problem. How sitting down to my school-issued laptop in front of my fireplace in the beautiful home where I live, I am lucky to have this as the topic of my preoccupation. Though it takes some effort to keep other worries at bay, these too are the forms of my privileged life. To have the luxury of contemplating my worth, as a writer, as a human, this is the greatest luck, really, and I am grateful for every other worry that does not belong to me.

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