Wednesday, June 15, 2005

For where no hope is left, is left no fear, pt.2

No, the previous post is not meant to be a statement about losing hope in all things that matter and plunging ahead now without fear given this great loss of hope in life. It is about… writing. You can go ahead and read additional stuff into it if you want, but if I wished to place that kind of subtext into it, then I would do it way more elliptically than that. I would not, for example, put the Milton quote right into the heading. That would be too obvious for me, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it?

For where no hope is left, is left no fear

If John Milton has it right, then I should (fearlessly) plunge into the (hopeless) world of writing. Not blog writing. Real writing.

I admit it: in the back of the head there is this idea that “someday I will really write.” Like, sit down and eek out a novel, for example.

Last night, however, any hope of ever becoming one of the greats (meaning: someone who actually does produce a text) was seriously shaken.

It happened at Borders. B and I took a run down in the evening to listen to Karen Fowler talk about her newest novel – The Jane Austen Book Club. Actually B did not listen – he waited outside. There are never many men in Fowler’s audience when she talks about Jane Austen. Madison astonished her with 4, which she said was twice her highest thus far.

Me, I absolutely love, almost more than anything else, listening to authors talk about their work. But eventually we came to the Q/As. Someone asked Fowler if, when she wrote, she found herself stealing the stories of people she knew.

Fowler responded with a resounding YES!!

Then came the hatchet (for me). Fowler said that you cannot write and have an exciting life. Writing obligates you to sit day in and day out at your computer, shunning experience in favor of the dullness of producing something credible.

So how do you come up with material? You surround yourself with friends, she tells us, who make dreadful decisions about their own lives and who then can’t wait to tell you about them. And then you steal their stories.

I fail on both counts. My life is not dull. It grows so un-dull by the minute that I want to shout – alright already! Back off with all the excitement! I am not asking for it, so keep it off my front porch. Jesus.

As for friends? All wise and prudent types who make, in my opinion, wise and prudent choices. Or so they tell me.

And so, if I am to listen to Fowler – an award winning, published author – I should admit defeat. There is no hope for me. Though there on my shelf rests Paradise Regained, with Milton glaring at me, telling me I should tally forth, because what the hell do I have to lose?

If there be worse, the expectation more
Of worse torments me than the feeling can.

Of course, Milton has no real say over my life. His problems are not my problems. Four times married, (twice to the same woman), wives dying on him left and right, sight failing – I mean, he had a choice: go to bed and write about Madeleines brought up to him by his mummy, or forge ahead with his Lost then Regained Paradise.

Me, I’ll probably pick myself up as well, Fowler notwithstanding, and stumble along, without hope, without fear, sort of like I do on Ocean
, daily, in the dull way that I do, with excitement raging around me, distracting, sure, but not completely standing in the way of me plunking away at the keyboard.
yesterday evening, at Borders Posted by Hello