Good news for the new year! My friend and grad-school compadre, Cecilia Ward Jones, had her essay, Art of Perseverance, published in the latest Poets and Writers (Jan/Feb 2010). Three cheers, hip-hip-hooray and a thousand kudos!
The link, unfortunately, will not take you to her excellent essay, just the listing on the P and W website noting that it's available in the print edition. But I think most of you are already subscribers, a few of you can come by the house and read my copy (in the back room by the computer, kids), and as for the rest of you, there's the library, or lingering at the newstand or loitering at your fav indie bookstore. Just don't get arrested and try to blame it on me.
You could also buy it.
Cecilia's essay addresses that age-old conundrum: why we write, and particularly why we write when, even after years of fighting our own doubts, working against everyone's expectations (she has some personal doozies to tell you about), and slaving away in isolation, improving story by story through sheer finger-sweat, brain abuse and neglect of human relationships, there are such meager crumbs of recognition, i.e. publication. Like, usually, none. As her (putative) friend said, and I quote from the essay: "' but that's like a hobby, right? Your writing. Since you don't publish.'
"Okay, everyone, in unison: GRRRRRRRRRRR!
Cecilia wonders, "I'm not published, ergo I'm not a writer?" which leads her to that question in the back of so many of our minds: If I'm not getting published, then why do I do it?
The irony is not lost on Cecilia, no siree bob, that her published essay is about her not being published.
Struggling with that same question, a bloggin' buddy, Kathleen O'Hanlon posted this on her blog Southern California is My Desk :
" It is my pleasure and my burden to get to spend time inside my head everyday, to the detriment of exercise, professional development, home-cooked meals, going to movies with friends. This is what I do for better and worse. And most days it feels like this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Don't know why. Don't know if I ever will know why. But there it is."
It's similar to Cecilia's conclusion: "a normal person probably would have gone on to other things, but I continue to write. Stubborn? Maybe. But it's what I do. I write. I get up every morning, sit in front of my computer and work away."
Cecilia and Kathleen have nailed it: we don't know why, but we do; we write. For better or worse, we write. In sickness and in health. In rain, snow, sleet, dark of night and bright of day, under blue moons and during monsoons. We write, ergo we are writers. So there.