Tonight I had one of those conversations. You, know, where someone wants to know about what you are writing. And you (I) become evasive and shy.
I am not playing coy when I demure, I genuinely find it excruciating to divulge the thoughts and ideas that I have nurtured and which I hope are imbued with enough worth to justify their being.
Wait a minute, you interject, slamming your Toby Jug on the table. You expect to (unlikely, but hopefully) be published – for the world to have access to these PRECIOUS ideas? And yet you shy away from talking about them?
Pah! You, antagonistic reader, sneer at me. Perhaps rightfully so.
No, not really, that’s part of the problem. I know that I can write, well enough to concoct at least a barely passable story, characters, dramatic arc, exposition, descriptive flourishes etcetera. I am not sure I can bear the scrutiny, the exposure.
Well, just write things that are less exposing, you wisely suggest.
It’s not possible. Everything comes from the twilight between conscious and subconscious. Nothing I am writing is biographical, but by being brought into existence I own it, and it owns me. I am responsible for it, and must justify it.
So, I told my companion this evening about my early work, (alluded to some posts previously), about the disillusioned Astronaut. She encouraged me to tell her more of the story, which I did. And I found myself defending – justifying? – philosophical positions, ideas, that I considered when I was a teenager, and that I see in a different light.
There was something fragile for me even in telling the story, let alone defending it. I must be more robust, more pragmatic about these things. More committed to my own creations.
You see, when I first wrote that story, a friend of mine took it from me and sent it to a literary agent. She wrote back that it contained some lovely writing but did not work as a novel, but that she would be very interested to see the next thing I wrote.
I was 18, and I could only see the rejection, I could not read the constructive (and flattering, encouraging) rest of the letter. It took me many years to see the truth, or at least to see beyond the negative. To see that it was a rejection, yes, but one not without hope.
I will open myself up to criticism, to encouragement. Perhaps that will be a constructive fire, a forge, rather than a pyre in which I die.