I want to thank Dayner and her thought-provoking post for getting my brain rolling this morning. This post was initially a response (okay, it’s not actually a response; I don’t answer anything) to some of her excellent questions, including these: What if I don’t want to be miserable? What if I don’t want to sit around and feel sorry for myself then write pitiful entries in my journal?
Well, historically, the percentage of suicides among poets is quite a bit higher than among the rest of the population. And we can all rattle of the names of A LOT of writers who have committed suicide or have or had extraordinarily difficult lives. I am most definitely NOT suggesting this route, though!
I think anyone who lives a real life has pain. I certainly have had my share of it — and for a while, I wrote about some of my terror. Was it eloquent? Don’t know — maybe some of it. Was it emotional? Absolutely. Did it provide catharsis in any way, make me feel better? Absolutely NOT.
So it’s not the kind of writing I am choosing to do now. And I think my writing can be pretty flat, pretty bland — perhaps as a result of tempering the emotion — which I try to compensate for with humor.
I have no pretensions of becoming a great writer though. I’d like to become an okay writer. I’d love to walk along the beach some summer day and see a couple of people slathering on sunscreen and settling in to one of my paperback novels and some PBR, maybe some tunes.
Russian angst. I guess I’m trying to escape it with my writing, not remain in it. I don’t want to be more miserable through writing. Or through reading, for that matter. If I know a kid dies in a novel, for example, I won’t read it. (I did slog my way through The Lovely Bones, but — really, never again.)
So I never answered Dayner’s questions. I guess we’re all haunted in some ways; we all have different ways of dealing with it. I’d like to think that excellent writing can come out of tapping into joy as well as into pain.
And here’s Mary Oliver’s poem, Why I Wake Early, which does just that.
Why I Wake Early
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety–
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.