You know what it is about writing that’s nearly pathological?
When serious writers sit to write, we embark on the private agony of birthing a child conceived of our creativity. Yet we are desperately apprehensive about how our offspring will fare before a judgmental public.
I write about this in my forthcoming novel, Cold Stun:
“Jenny detested the act of writing, but she savored the career it enabled, one that was the ambition of so many of the determined young women who issued forth from liberal arts colleges each Spring with their caps set for glamour jobs. The bedrock under Manhattan Island groaned under the weight of them: attractive, able -- and girded against the private agony of stepping out onto the taut high wire that awaits young women of purpose. They could rely on only monumental self-assurance to maintain their balance despite the blinding spotlights trained on them in anticipation of a slip.”
Why do writers endure this most tormenting of pursuits?
Perhaps we are mysteriously drawn – like Wallenda wannabes -- to that “taut high wire.”
The Flying Wallendas
Again, from Cold Stun:
“She toasted a slice of bread, buttered it generously and spooned on a dollop of honey, hoping to quiet her stomach. Jenny was uncertain if her nausea was the result of the vodka she had drunk last night -- or her apprehension about writing a speech this morning. It was always the same for her, not knowing what her computer would issue forth on any given day. Like an Inuit carver believing he is freeing the figure from the frozen stone, she considered the speech a tenant of her computer, not of her mind. She was like a fearful swimmer focusing on the deep bottom of the pool instead of the surface, where buoyancy prevails. From assignment to assignment, she was never sure that the next speech would emerge. It always had, but someday it might not. That someday might be today. What was it that John Cheever’s wife said about him? ‘His was the loneliness of a writer, when he would sit by himself working alone. They all complain about it. It’s not a social craft.’”
But when your writing works – when it’s good and true, to paraphrase Hemingway -- there’s nothing more gratifying.
So I’m gratified that, four months after its launch, my Paradise Diaries blog has garnered almost 5,500 reader visits.
Especially when I receive comments from readers like my swim buddy from Martha’s Vineyard, Margaret Harrison, who said of “A boy named Josh”: “… brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my lips!”
Of course, I’m always kept honest and humbled by my friend and professional ne’er-do-well, Parker Godwin, who emailed: “You’ve got ‘novelist ... innkeeper ... marathoner ... sailor ... snorkeler ... cyclist’ in your About Me. But what about a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king?'“
Either way, I thank you all for logging in every week.
As I try to build the “platform” of followers that publishers typically demand before taking on a new novelist, I invite you to sign up as a subscriber to Paradise Diaries -- if you’re inclined.
Together we just might get the long-anticipated Cold Stun novel out the door.
In my next blog: Trees from hell