Monday, July 19, 2010
Trying to be Henry Miller...But he used the F-bomb a lot...Wrong novel title?
Before completion, success
If, before completion, the little fox dips his tail into the water,
nothing will further.
I am tossing the I-Ching again. Last time I did it when I quit my glamorous job with the slick Canadian Magazine and decided to buy a cottage in the backwoods to be a writer.
Well. Great expectations. I sat for two years with something like a painter's Blank Canvas feeling. All set up. All needs met. Enough money to last two years, in relative luxury, bucolic arcadian existence or no
Wifey is trying to be diplomatic. "You picked a hard thing to be, baby. You switched from journalism to fiction...It is not the same thing. You had to have learned your craft...You haven't really."
Meanwhle back comes the answer from Stanford University, California, where I had applied to get into the writer's program there.
Said the late Wallace Stegner (of Big Rock Candy Mountain),
"Your talents seem to lie in journalism.
The program is for fiction writers.
...Besides, you're not an American."
Oh fok! Bad enough in Canada when in the Fifties not being born here was a crime. Today any number of exotics can play, to spite old Plato who had said that the promotion of foreigners was really bad for a country, certainly Athens at the time.
Well, I watch foreigners here being promoted every day.
Many come aleady wealthy, some of them are even nasty, just getting off the plane and demanding thier rights, and pee on you, "foreign" devil.
Well, I had the sense of being peed on by Wallace Stegner.
Well, better to be rejected by the best in their country to be than some hack T.A. in a writing program.
For Wallace Stegner, was really a super American in his writing, I was not an "American enough" for the Stanford Writing Program.. And I hadn't yet attained a satisfactory level of skill in fiction to be admitted to this Ivy League school.
Eventually, I had to settle for the Instituto Allende, Mexico,accredited then by the University of California.
Señor, we will get you your MFA, But first your novel. We have to see.
Well, better luck. A scholarhip after they read my Black Icon novel. Eventually a fellowship. They made me a professor...But of what? Non Fiction, that's what.
Well, maybe the great Wallace Stegner was right.
Still, my ego keened like a trapped hare when it began to dawn on me that my talents were more like ambulance -chasing than being the elitiist with his quill up in his posh study, the very model of that famous New Yorker logo, the guy with the top hat and the pince-nez.
Damn. I would never be able to put "Fiction Writer" on my tee shirt.
So through academe and journalism, no matter how successful I became in those fields there was also the nagging thought that I was not sine qua non, not a real writer.
I was meanwhile seeing that America had changed her mind. They were now promoting foreigners. Jerzy Kosinski's
The Painted Bird was already a bestseller--and he, to my envious mind--was a Polack.
Yeah, but the Painted Bird was art. I was back in See Spot Run, with Dick and Jane.
Smarting with a sense of not being up there with the best, I had another read of the late Jerzy Kosinski.
Oh-oh, I smelled a rat when I read this boiler plate. It was about an idiot who became president of the United States.
Bullshit. This is impossible. You have to be smart!
...And then along came Dubya.
Prescient man that Jerzy Kosinski!
Well, I was was by now neither talented nor prescient, it seemed to me.
So I went off and wrote a real novel, about a displaced person trying to hold it all together in Tornto.
Well. Some "damning with high praise" from above. A grant of money. But fizzle.
Years went by. I took on the cast of the Canadian would-be writer. In short, I became a prick. I drove away my family, went back to the cottage to be the next Canadian Honore' de Balzac.
Oh-oh. Another book, another fizzle.
Tough luck, Henry Muck.
And now neither chick or child.
Write about squalor, says Salinger in his "To Esme From Love and Squalor."
I became a friggin' bum.
And met there a bummette.
Hey, squalor and then even love!
I decided to write about love and squalor.
The book will be out this week.
I pray I have not become Rumpelstitkin.
...Who was an asshole....
(The I-Ching again):
Before completion, success.
If before completion,
the little fox dips his tail into the water
Nothing will further.
Next week will tell whether or not I had thrust my entire major appurtenance into mud. But it's almost too late now. An adolescent Confucious joke rings in my mind.
"Man who f*ck on hillside not on level!
I had set out to follow the wisdom of Lao-tse.
More like Rumpelstiltskin.