Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fifty miles of bad road

It has become almost cliché  among sentient people to agree  with old T.S Eliot, with the startling realization that what you have been thinking for years has already been well explored by somebody else. But better.
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." 

Afer fifty years of writing, performing, caurousing, whoring, I am something like a mole with a very tender nose. Seems nobody ever told me to go around! But one is mole-like, and it seems that there are certainly burrowing tendencies, probably the result of the last world war, where you had to dig, dig, dig, or be exploded.


When I wrote my European wartime novel, The Black Icon, I was blissfully unaware that the writing of that book was just the first step of a journey, easily, of ten thousand miles, with no real goal in sight, save that of one book, then another, then another probably to show how good I thought I was.

But I found over the years, possibly agreeing with old Willie Maughan, that there was only one book in me, and the second, third and fourth was just burrowing around.

After fifty years, I think I have come to he end of my tunnel. Like a Kafkaesque character drawn by my once-pen pal, Willie Elder in Mad Magazine, "YOU'VE DUG YOUR LAST HOLE, MOLE!

Seems today, I am right back where I first began with writing what my creative writing prof  had said was  one brilliant flash in the pan, THE BLACK ICON.

Jesus. Hundreds of thousands of wasted words, the babysitting with your toddler son tugging  at the paper in your typewriter, the years of surely masochistic starvation where you had quit  a perfectly good paying job the humiliation over what was probably deliberate failure just to experience what that was like.

The answer surely lies in humour, whereTV ole boy Jethro says to the rich artist, "You're supposed to suffer if you're an artist.

"Well, you're sure going to suffer when you find out some drunk backhoe operator loaded a ton of sand into your kidney-shaped swiming pool."

I've had the houses and I've had the pools, but there was this almost adolescent artist thing. "Have I, have I, have I made the grade?"

Too young to know I had made it, made it very early, and now like the nervous amateur thespian who only had two lines to say, "Hark! Cannon! I have ended up,at the end of my rope, like that nervous actor,  blurting out, "What the fuck was that?"

Goldurn it.

After fifty years, I am back where I started.

It is time to again republish my only decent work, THE BLACK ICON.

All the rest, it seems, was sturn und drang, storm and stress.

12 comments:

Unknown said...

There is no truth in saying there is only one good work in a writer. There are so many variables. what if the person who handles the slush pile is still slushed from the night before or your regular editor is out of work for a 6 month rehab from all the party coke?

I always wanted to be a writer...so I took the long route to get there. I worked at fixing cars, being generally pissed off and mostly just writing and throwing the paper away. What else is there?

I never thought I was a writer anyway and still don't. I just don't think on it anymore, I don't have enough time left me now to try to climb the ladder to the shadow of the moon where all of the greats still live so to hell with it. If YOU say that all you ever had in you was one good work then I guess all you had in you was one good work.

But if you say you have not lived your life and had a hell of a time doing it then I say you are mistaken and maybe you should try becoming a writer or something.

Unknown said...

Ahh that goddamn durfee just found out the beauty of writing an anonymous comment at 0150.

Charles Gramlich said...

I thought I'd commented on this one. After the writing I've done, and not done, I'm definitely fifty miles of bad road. Or more

ivan@creatiewriting.ca said...

Charles.

Charles,
Durn. Seems I'm double-posting when I meant to edit my blog.

Yep it almost seems that for us writers at times, it's a Peleliu or Iwo Jima.
Those W.W. 2 battles were eventually won,but tens of thousands of marines died horribly and many survivors got that thousand yard stare.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Anonymous,

Mark,I knew it was you right away from the style. And it's a good style.

ivan@creeativeritng.ca said...

Mark,

Shee-it. Tobacco and alcohol withdrawal chucks here.

That last comment from me was for Unkown, not Anonymous your other appelation.

Anonymous said...

I think it was Duane Eddy who first "mentioned" 40 miles of bad road...in any case,just because your nose has bumped a wall well within reach is not necessarily a bad thing...no words are wasted,no actions meaningless...one is simply continuing to polish the silver...you cannot buy the stairway to heaven,but you can find it,and ascend it with great pride...perhaps it is the Black Icon that is re-visiting you...the odd storm/rain is good for all of us...cheers...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks so much, Erik.

I had to go the long way with wordcat to find, but I should like to say I'm pleaed.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Anonumous, I can't quite identfy you by style. It's ether Mark or an old sideman with our old band, The Cavaiers, who used to play on CKVR TV, Barrie, Ontario. Canada.

Anyway, it's MARK or PULL (For Tony) and I will now shoot some skeet.

Anonymous said...

Ivan, your blog's not accepting my comment on your latest post so I'll put it here:

An alternative, some might say optimistic, view: perhaps your other books are solid; Black Icon your masterpiece. You just did it unfortunately young. Now you can write for the joy of it. Or make a movie or something. Be one of those cool old guys pursuing new tech, making literary apps for iphones.

Btw I think the Talmud beat TS Eliot to the punch: "against your will you were created; against your will you were born; against your will you live; against your will you die, and against your will you are destined to give an account before the King.""

Anonymous said...

--That last anonymous was Chris Benjamin, an important new Canadian writer

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