Sunday, January 18, 2009

Everyone's Got One Good Book In Them...

I heard a woman stand and say this to August Wilson at a Q&A with the legendary playwright back in the 90's. His response was as brief as it was perfect: "No they don't."

There's a maxim offered up by theater maven Stella Adler, that she wishes the stage was as thin and dangerous as a tightrope, so only the most truly qualified would dare to trod upon it. Alas, though, the stage and the page are wide enough for the unskilled and the unnecessary. I often wrestle with my own worth as a writer, wondering how I can dare put words on the page when they seem so imperfect, so trite. Then, I realize most writers - even the finest - feel this way about their work at times. They cover it up with bravado or alcohol, or in Hemingway's case, both. But, the muse perches on one shoulder, and on the other, sits the weight of one's own insecurities. So, the balancing act of art begins.

But, whenever I've really felt discouraged as a writer, I don't turn to Updike or Carver for inspiration. They make me feel all the more unworthy at times. Instead, when I shudder at my own artistic inadequacies, I turn to a document I found back in 2001. It features excerpts from a book that was going to publication. These passages were from the author, before the proofreader or editor got a hold of them, I presume. Either way, as I understand it, this work was published. That's all I need to keep going, because I know I'm better than this.

Behold, excerpts from an unintentional tragedy (or is it a comedy?). These are VERBATIM, exactly as they originally appeared in the initial draft, so I have been assured:

*Riva reached the desk with Lance behind her and told the officer she wanted to speak with an officer, informing with the officer her reasons for needing to speak with an officer.

*She somehow knew this, deep in the cervix of her mind.

*She pushed her fork into the juicy slice of yellow mellow on her plate.

*"I see," said Paula, rubbing her thumb over her flesh-colored manicured forefinger nail.

*Dark eerie fear gripped Lance and seem to creep at snail pace around the center of his stomach, and finally to his throat.

*Cedric was man was average height with lemon complexion and looked as if was serious about his work.

*Riva gave Lance a wicked sexy smile as he continued to stroke exclusively.

*"I'm glad to see you and know you are well, Jasper," Riva said, really glad to see Jasper, and know that he was alive and promising to do well.

*(this is at a pool game) He racked the balls and split them, scattering a hue of round colors across the table.

*Riva surrendered to to black strong rippling hot iron, that seemed to spur every ounce of her blood to a bubbling boil. dy. (That 'dy' is part of the manuscript, as if the author got so turned on, she had a petit mal at the end of the sentence)

*Philip moved as swift as a feline cat through the study. (as opposed to a canine cat, I assume?)

*The easy-strike matches in his pocket would strike on anything, since the matches were easy to strike.


So, there you have it - a dozen reasons to keep writing. August was right, not everyone has a good book in them, but as long as people who don't have one in them keep publishing, I'm going to be here, typing away...just in case.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

I could seriously give you a million reason for you to keep writing. I love to read whatever you have to say whether I agree with you on it or not. You are awesome Tommy!!!!