Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Fishers of Men

A recent discussion on fantasist about the texture of stories and how different people generatetheir stories in different ways led my mind to "wander lonely as a cloud" down twisty byways as it is wont to do.

Creative people of all stripes share common goals but develop uniquely different methods of reaching them. Creativity is much like fishing. While I would use a Zebco rod and reel combo (cheap and reliable), someone else might opt for a surf-casting rig or a fly rod, or a gill net. Similarly, one will catch salmon, one catfish, another squid or shad or conch or lobster, even kelp for the vegetarians among us. Each of us then prepares our catch with our greatest skill, using our talents and exquisite care to produce a product for public consumption. Each artist is unique, but we all fish in the same streams and rivers, the same ponds and lakes and oceans. Call it the "collective unconscious" if you like, or a common mythology.

One of the biggest hurdles a writer must overcome is finding his or her "path with a heart". It certainly was for me. Of course, I was laboring under the load of an awful lot of formal education as well. I was trained in the "right" way to think, the "right" way to write, the "right" things to see and the "right" way to interpret them. Real writing is not like that. I am unable to force myself into someone else's mold. In writing, "right" and "wrong" are very slippery concepts that have no real definitions, only individual interpretations.

Education and low self-respect have really held me back. I like to follow the rules. I like to learn from the experts. I like things explained to me in black and white. All this gray smoke and fog confuses me, and I feel very lost. I often feel like I'm an imposter. I'm not doing this right, I can't be, I don't know how. Where's the map? Where are the signs? How far is it to Kalamazoo?

There's no map. The only signs are smudged and point in different directions anyway. How far to anywhere depends on what route I take. AAAUUUGGGHHHHH!

I'm feeling my way. I haven't fallen off a cliff yet, so I'll keep going. Maybe one day I will develop the ability to detect the Earth's magnetic field or whatever it takes to navigate this business effectively. In the meantime, please excuse me while I wander around.

Speaking of wandering, how in the hell did I get here from where I started?

Sidetracked

I fell under the spell of The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats and have done absolutely nothing productive, just basked under the sunlamp of a great Irish poet. I guess that's OK on a cold, rainy day.

One passage in particular sparked a train of thought:

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance;

-- from "The Fiddler of Dooney"

Hmmmm. Yeats must have lived on a different planet than I do. In my reality the good, or the ones who think they're good, are far too often dour, judgemental, and just plain unhappy. That thought led to another rant, but I'll leave it alone for now. Yeats beckons.

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