Monday, July 11, 2005

Human Voices Woke Me

It's been two months since I posted to this blog. I actually have a reason, a good one -- good, at least, in most writers' eyes.

By nature, I'm depressive, and if not for that fact, I might have written something by now, something pertaining to the larger world of death and loss, of grief and the bottomless anguish one feels with the loss of a loved one. A couple of months ago, my father became ill, and he passed away three weeks later. The details aren't important, nor are appeals for readers' sympathy.

And if I weren't such a cynic, perhaps I would have written a tribute to my father or perhaps not posted this without a pretentious title. You know, How Dad Inspired Me to Become a Writer, or something to that effect, true or not. How I am the person I am today because of him (well, duh).

But I do get depressed more often than your average lad, and I don't want to sound like an ungrateful snot, but I'm not going to write about Dad, except to say I was fortunate to have seen him before he died. Wife and I did an inordinate amount of travel over the course of a month, shed many tears, and were gratified at the number of family and friends who came to comfort my mother and the rest of us.

The fact is -- and it is not a small thing -- that Dad dying pretty knocked the wind out of me, and writing has assumed its rightful importantce in the universe, which is to say, it is of little importantce. I cannot say that writing makes me even feel better, much less if it makes me a better person.

Not quite

There are writers who work through their mourning, pounding the keyboard as a means of catharsis. There is the school of thought that posits you should keep writing in your most painful moments. That the feeling of anguish has its own shape on the page, and one can truly give it voice only when one is experiencing it.

Personally, I would have punched someone in the face had they suggested that I needed to sit down after my father's funeral and get my feelings on paper. For those whose singular goal in life is their art, this is a desired (if not admirable) thing.

One of the biggest shortcomings of my fiction is that it can be all brain, little heart. While I've recognized this and have improved my writing as such, I'll always go for wit over emotion (Dylan over Springsteen, Borges over Neruda, etc.)

That's the real reason I've been kind of a chickenshit of late -- I have nothing clever to say, spill my "true feelings" and reveal something that I care not to share. Which is what they tell you to do in writing class.

Over and out.