Monday, November 7, 2011

Alive and well, afraid

The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Love that quote, almost enough to look up who said it, then really figure out who said it.

I totally dropped the ball last week. In fact, it wasn't until Thursday that I realized that I hadn't blogged. I wouldn't describe the winter season as busy, either. It just slipped off my mind and didn't stick back on until much later.

But I have been writing, both this past weekend and the one before it. I even squeezed in some academic scribbling as well. My students had some opinions about a Jack London story that were different from my own, and I thought it was an excellent time to show them how arguments go down among literary types. Initially, I intended to comb through the story for quotes that proved my point, but what started as some light reading during a lunch break ended up being a few pages of rhetoric. It was the first time that I had taken to something like that seriously since graduating college. I wasn't really sure what that meant. The next week I was discussing Arthur Miller's idea of the modern tragic hero with a co-worker and relating the citizen Miller wrote about to the ones walking around today. I had to consider the idea that maybe going back to school wouldn't be so awful.

I came to some other difficult conclusions, too. The book I'm working on is the third of a series, and the finale, and I don't know how much that has to do with it, but I find myself doing things I wouldn't otherwise. The pertinent bits of story seem to be dragging; moreover, the various plot lines seem to be getting in the way of each other. I'm not sure if I'm writing just one book anymore. Talking it over with a friend, we discussed a very popular fantasy series where the author, by the sixth book or so, had spread things so thin that most of the novels were nigh on unreadable to some people (because of course they sold like hot cakes). Both I and my friend only picked up the later books for one or two specific characters. The rest had gotten too powerful to be interesting or had never been worthwhile to read about from the beginning. I felt good to think that I wouldn't have those problems because my books are much shorter, and there will be fewer of them.

Still, I worry.

Then again, I guess those kinds of thoughts will always be there. For instance the short story I'll be attempting this month I had the idea to write in the future tense. The whole thing. It calls back to that story I wrote in workshop back in college, all in 2nd person, just because my mentor said not to, because people said it was impossible. I'm much more comfortable with failure than I was then. If I try, and it doesn't work, that's fine, but I certainly will gain nothing if I don't even attempt it. So I guess a little trepidation is fine, even healthy, so long as it doesn't roll over into paralyzing fear.

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