In college I took some creative writing coursework. I took a 200 level class freshman year and the prof immediately suggested that I take his grad class sophomore year. I was absolutely intimidated and I tried hard, until I tapped out after the life-altering experience of finding and then nearly losing my future husband. But in that class I did come up with a little story called "Snow-Angels".
On the back page my prof wrote:
[Sex]--This is outstanding! The characters, the pacing, the dialogue--it's all just right. The theme, young people on the edge of adulthood, is deftly woven into the narrative, handled with subtlety and skill. (He missed the theme of inevitable, frightening change--that apparently was woven in a bit too deftly.) Then he throws me a couple of suggestions and finishes: ...but with a bit of polish this is publishable stuff.
And there was a big ole A on it, too.
It was type-written on an old Smith-Corona and full of more mistakes than you can imagine. But there's some good stuff in there, I think.
And his last line stuck with me the last six months. It's funny how one small comment can make a difference. Having done some teaching myself, I know that this would be the wet dream of a creative writing professor: to write a comment that stuck with someone you thought was good; right through to publishing.
So today I pulled Snow-Angels out and transcribed it into Word. I'm giving it to my writing buddy and I might email it to a couple of folks for suggestions (it definitely needs work), and then I'm gonna find a proper rag to submit to. So it was publishable nearly twenty years ago, but is it timeless? We'll find out.
Somebody else recently wrote to me after I talked about getting rejection letters(I'm going to annihilate this, I know): "There are writers out there with some skill. That can make them good. There are writers who can market pretty well, too. That can make them great. But you put skill and marketing together with passion and then you've got excellence."
I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
This is our lives on holiday
--billie joe and the boys
So with that, I've had to face this question forcing its way into my psyche: Do I want to do this writing gig for real... like, make a buck? Or do I want to carry on with social hour? The fiction won out, as it inevitably will. But Greg decried my quitting the blog outright--thanks, btw--so I've tried to compromise. Not like I can give up Greg himself, at any rate.
I've also been entertaining the notion that I've left my brain on simmer so long that the water is starting to evaporate, leaving nothing but old ideas and stale emotions. I've been contemplating my spirituality (or rather, lack thereof) for awhile now, but it's still fearful to make much of an appearance. First came the fiction (I actually accidently typed that fixtion just then - which is more apt, so fixtion it shall ever remain) and though I will continue to insist that I am a storyteller through and through... ok, ok, yeah, I guess it does reveal some of my longing for depth and exploration.
Unfortunately, with the re-emergence of this old exploration my old affectivity has resurfaced as well. It's the nemesis of writers, I think, that we crave solitude while so needing social interraction in order to hoard fodder for our chosen craft.
As my horoscope today mentions: "You're weirdly introverted today, more into making big plans than big statements."
I'm reminded constantly of my alone-ness, of my separate-ness. I can't ever seem to stay emerged in a group for all that long; some longstanding flaw in my character prevents that. I don't even want to--I'm especially bad with groups of women--so the flaw runs pretty deep. Think Mr and Mrs Smith when Angelina sits with the neighbor women and has nothing to say. That's me. I can fake it, but am I really interested? No, and after a while people can start to tell. Of course my personal bullshit meter rises exponentially when I become emotionally hurt by my own self-invoked solitude.
But I can't help it. I need depth. I need to be challenged. I need intellectual spirituality. Someone called me a philosopher the other day. No, I typed back, laughing nervously to myself, I'm just a writer. For me, these "philosphical" posts are more studies in character and situation. You know, for the benefit of my fixtion.
So to Greg and Mac and TG and Jack (miss you) and Maugham and the rest of you thoughtful lurkers and commenters with whom I am so far out of my league that I can barely see the light of your lanterns, thanks for joining into my new challenge. I appreciate your time and your comments and especially your questions. They get me to thinking and writing even more, and to me, that's the greatest gift ever.