Saturday, May 24, 2008

What were you before you became a writer?


What were you before you became a writer?

What were you before you surrendered the vows of logic, common sense, being a productive and rational citizen, and went off fishing in forbidden streams and hunt strange moonbeams in the dark?

Hah. Only the shadow knows. Your shadow.

Dostoevky says we should be engineers, not the chasers of whims, of fantasy, of (as only old Fyodor could say it)--buggery....Well, for women writers, it would be something else. Certainly self-expression.

But I think it's really the id. "I want. I want."

The id. Keeping a lid on the id.

Norman Podhoretz used to say that a good piece of writing leads to high euphoria. Even masturbation.

Well, I think I'm starting to find out what he meant by his old book title," Making it".

Many wondered what it was he had actually made. Self-made man!

And Philip Roth capped it all with a first draft called "Whacking Off", which he eventually changed into Portnoy's Complaint.

Poor Alexander Portnoy writing valentines to a pound of the family's liver. Alec, how could you?

Every man's Mede....

Ah well, I am casting Persians.

The damn compulisiveness you develop and you turn from real life and become a writer.

My life is falling apart alll around me, but it's the words, the beautiful words.

This, of course is behaviour that is very nearly infantile.

Remember in your teens and twenties, how earnest you were, how good? Disciplined. Rational. Logical.

...Makes me think of that song by Supertramp.

And now what?

Sell out your grandmother for a story, going along with William Faulkner in the bragaccio that "good art is is worth any number of old ladies"?

Ah. Rogue profession.

But would you want to try any other?

It's too late, in any event.

Better shot as rapist than a chicken-plucker I suppose.

And I really must end this and get back to real life.

The landlord's at the door.

What use has he for "the beautiful words"?
And mine aren't too purdy.

##



17 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

my first wish to become a writer was very pure. I wanted to write the kinds of wonderful stories that I so loved to read, so that others could read them too. Somewhere later the ego got involved. I tell him and tell him to shut up but he doesn't always listen. The Bastard.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Hello Ivan,

I never thought of being a writer when I first started writing. I was merely reaching out. I wanted to be heard, someone to see the pain that I was enduring at the hands of those that were suppose to love me the most.

I was lucky, my high school calculus teacher noticed and encouraged me to write more and more, and here I am finally finding my path so many years later.

Shame I wasted all those years letting my abusers win. Not any more.

By writing, sharing the love I feel, even if it is with strangers, I win.

I hope you are well, man that makes my heart smile.

Soft love,
T

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Lord,

I have mislaid people and book contracts because of ego...because published large while still a student gave me an attitude.

Maybe the ancient Chinese had it right. They would refer to "this humble and insignificant thing before you."
But there is some ego in this too.

Ah well, Confucius say, "Man having sex on hillside,not on level."

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Tara,

The decision to become a writer does change you.

the walking man said...

"Remember in your teens and twenties, how earnest you were, how good? Disciplined. Rational. Logical."

Uhhhh I'm in my fifties and still have never reached those adjectives/adverbs.

Before I wrote I was a pre-teen kid. While I wrote I was a sailor, road dog, husband, divorced, re-married, work-a-holic auto mechanic, union steward, fighter, drunk, drug user, head case, and of course toilet scrubber.

What am I now? All of the above + lazy. Write, forget, move on.

Peace

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Funny thing, Mark.

I did not reach the stages that you mention until I got married, in my late twenties.
Had to support wife and family.

Yes, and even klosetputzer.

Middle Ditch said...

I never knew that I could write scripts until I was fifty even though I wrote (long hand) my first play at nine. I am still what I was though, an ordinary woman with a husband and children. No change there.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Well, I married another writer.

This leads to interesting dynamics.

I rubbed her nose in it after publishing my novel.

Mistake.

She found a dork, and I found a bimbo.

The walking Man has a blog on being common.

I like to call it rococo, but it's still a kind of bumhood.

Strange wish:
I wish I'd been unsuccessful

Women seem to love a man who is something of a failure.

I mean, you have to live with the guy.

Boy George:

Every day is like survival.
You're my lover
Not my rival.

Yet "like" actually attracts "like".

One of the mysteries.

....and I'm way off topic!

Donnetta Lee said...

Before I was a writer, I was a...I was a...well, damned if I know.
Donnetta

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

A cute female puppy?

the walking man said...

Failing is an option Ivan. Defining failure is not. ha ha ha ha

Peace

Sienna said...

But what if you were all writer's to begin with? destined...already written on the stars...

...and then you find yourselves?

Ivan, are writer's born or made?

Can people be taught to be writers?

Pam

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Lamont Cranston:

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
"The shado knows. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha."

There comes a time in a person's life when all that hyperactivity over environment, evolution, great whales and political correctness seem to amount to so much bull roar and he stops singing with the choir. Best example, I suppose is Bob Dylan.
Ah, but Mr. Zimmmerman is/was a genius...Nice work if you can get it.
Neverheless, we hear things, we see things for ourselves and come to realize ththat group life and group think is not for us.

We have to make a statement.

Something corny but appropriateate, a poem out of World War II:

"I wished to be a pilot
And you along with me
But if we all were pilots
Where would the air force be

It takes guts to be a gunner
To sit out on the tail
Where the Messersmitts are coming
And the slugs begin to wail."

Fokker? That was no Fokker.
That Fokker was a Messershmitt.

Fly too high and you get shot down.
I wrote my first novel before I was
thirty.
All the journalistic hot-shots, ploughing deep furrows into the vinyards of reportage, at which they were so good--hated me. I mean the Peter Gzowskis and Robert Fulfords of Canada--the big boys.

I had my own cheeering section in the little papers and magazines, where I was allowed to write what I pleased and got well paid for it.

I had decided to be a writer at 20, and finally arrived at thirty.
Establishment.
One million words in print.

Still, I was thinking of my war.

That Fokker was a Messershmitt!

In Canada, they will shoot you down if you do too much.

Heh. Remember that IQ test you talked about?
Well, there's always that third guy out there who's even smarter than you are.
And you gotta watch him.

The Messersmitt fighter had a cannon that could fire right through the spinner. The cannon was mounted underneath the inverted V of the engine.
The engine ran off a spider wheel, not a direct crankshaft, allowing space for the cannon.

What do I mean by all of this?

A vicar came to a house of ill repute. Putting on his shoes averwards he had some small talk with the lady. "I have to confess that I am not a good man. I am a vicar."

He had not yet put on his shorts.

Lady: "Gee I thought by the size of your balls, you were at leat a Canon."

Ah, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

I was that vicar.

Sure got a haircut.

ivan@cretivewrting.ca said...

Pam,

Writers are very versatile people, A genius like Einstein was clever, just as good at designing washing machines and gadgets as Unified Theories. But he was a physicist, of course and not a writer.
For the writer, the signs come early. In class, The resonation of ideas,sounds,words. The books.
He is like a harp player poised to play without actually playing. It is the idea of playing.
But publishing is business, and he knows along with Balzac that things are just as bad now as they were in 1840.
He's got to find a way in in or he's just spinning his wheels.
He knows that the very best had had their books sold for butter wrappin.

He/she is impatient with time-killing games, is a bit of a schizoid and oftimes needs to be alone.

I believe the writer actually chooses to be so.
But Lord, there is dare-deviltry.
As he strikes out an a lonely path he migh fall into wells while looking up at the stars. He will suffer hunger. There will be rain.
There might even be crime.

Among the filty, filthy too.

Ah, how it is that you crank out a novelist.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Monique,

I have been at your apparent impasse.

For some reason, I always turn to Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass.

The Noble Egg talks ( I think)of the sound you hear when it finally happens. The success. The "outgribing":

Well, "outgribing" is something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle: however, you'll hear it done, maybe -- down in the wood yonder -- and, when you've once heard it, you'll be quite content."

Maybe someting in the mail will make you "outgribe" :)

Gets darkest befor the light. (No, not he other train) :-)

Lana Gramlich said...

I hear you on this. Although I recently sold 3 paintings at a local market, I had to come down on my prices on all of them & my ultimate take (after costs,) wasn't even $35. Throughout my art career (if one could call it that,) I've often wondered, "why bother?"

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Well Lana,

I didn't mean to sound negative in the blog.

It's worthwhile, very worthwhile, especially when young.
I had a rock column for a long time in my late twenties, and it was fun to hang around the Electric Circus here in Toronto and be a media guy and meet Country Joe and the Fish and Ian Tyson, and by third-hand, John Lennon.
But all the disco lights suddenly went out and I went into interviewing the stars just in to the Royal York from Hollywood.

Ed Mirvish here in town used to bring them in, and some of them
played at the Royal Alec.
Every time I'd do a review of a performance, the late Mr.Mirvish would paste my reviews up on a huge wall outside the Royal Alec and peope I didn't know started to say hello to me as a theatre and restaurant critic I think the stories are still up, but surely a bit yellowed by now....Of course, I made sure I gave his Ed's Warehouse "all-roast-beef" restaurant a good plug.
I made lots of money writing, but it was mostly journalism and columns. I lost money on all my novels save one, The Black Icon which I persuaded a maganine publisher to print in serial form.
So every time a chapter came out, I ate (But then Ed would feed me for nothing at Ed's Warehouse anyway).
So art is worth doing.

Ya never know.

A Tom Thompson just went to an Iranian dealer for a cool million.
Suddenly art approaches the value of oil in Canada! And the Iranian lives in Toronto and wants to keep the painting there.
I would sugggest a coffee table book for your art but it's hard to find a publisher.
But once sombody gives you a grant or pays the cost of the book--it moves.
Publicity. That seems the secret.
At this, at least, I'm good.
Heh. Self-promotion.

Takes a while, but it works.