Monday, October 3, 2011

The Contempt 3: the Detriment

I'm peevish these days. I'm peevish these days because I've been mired in the construction of chapter books. These smaller projects came about as I finished my novel Sand and Asbestos. I wanted to write something new, something different. In Search of Basho was born.
I looked at the chapter book as a new adventure and venue for smaller pieces. I aimed to write fifty pages, I figured the average reader could read this amount in a sitting and move on with their day.
Okay. I also thought these projects as a way to polish up and assemble smaller thoughts and processes. I'm currently finishing up #18 and #19. Twenty chapter books is the goal.
The reason I've become so peevish is because I opted to use old notebooks as the source of the chapter book material. As I read through the notebooks of 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 I became horrified at the material, the lack thereof and if that's not sufficient reason for peevishness, I don't know what it.
In 2002, I was acting on advice given to me from a trusted friend. Time would change all of that, the friend and the merit of the advice. I worked then and made good money. I bought a house. In short, I again opted to take the path of the conventional.
There was an artist in my community at that time who was good buddies with the above mentioned trusted friend. This artist spent hours and hours everyday engraving copper plates. I loved him for it and I was genuinely impressed with his work.
Now, the trusted friend told me that I should buy the house, I should think about business and that I should treat writing as a hobby like rebuilding an old car. Incidentally, I did rebuild an old car. His point? He thought our artist friend had so dedicated his life to art that what he gave up was a good money earning, creature comfort seeking, materialistically conventional life. Admittedly, it made sense. This artist lived in squalor. He worked part time as a waiter. He drank heavily. And because of conversations with the trusted friend, I became reticent of jumping headlong into my writing.
Ultimately, I would do what I needed to do. I no longer talk to that once trusted friend. I no longer have a mortgage. Now, I write everyday. Things are good. But it took a long time to recover.
So shy so peevish?
Reading and rewriting old words from that time is tough. At that time I was on the brink of good stuff. I was told advice (which I followed) not to make writing become a detriment to my quality of life. Don't be like the artist. Instead, I let life become a detriment to my writing. In allowing this, I lost valuable time. I lost hours of my day, each day, and I lost the value of the process.
Today, I'm grateful that that time gave me valuable experience in the realm of the living of life. And naturally after compiling old work, I feel peevish.
If it come to this: production of art or the living of life, don't fall victim to reason. Your feelings should help you to decided. If you want to work in copper or iambic pentameter, do it. It will sort itself out. This is life and nothing more. And since you know someday you'll die, why not die trying?

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