Our Mission Statement:

The mission of Pens & Pages Writers Guild is to facilitate and encourage writers of all genres, to share resources and tips about the writing process and, most of all, to provide a positive and productive forum that will encourage and support each writer in his or her creative endeavors.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Out of Time...

I started to read a book by that ^ title (or one very like it) but I just couldn't finish it. It's at the Book Shoppe, now, probably ;-) The subject was time travel -- apropos, yeah? -- a subject, I think, which is very hard to tackle. (I've only ever read one that I really liked -- The Time Traveler's Wife -- so, so good! (Sigh!) I'll lend it, but I must have it back)

Anyway, I'm way off the beaten path, here. So, back on track, here.

Do you ever feel that you are just out of step with time? Like everyone around you is moving on one scale and you're just a half-beat off? That's how I feel sometimes.

I remember seeing a sketch on Saturday Night Live once using that premise. It starred the host, Rob Morrow (Doc. Joel Fleishman on Northern Exposure) as a guy who, while lunching with his friends, attempted to engage in the conversation and interject jokes or funny anecdotes...but his attempts kept falling flat. Like they were just a hair off, one half-step too late. The friends at his table kept looking at him in that uncomfortable way, trying to muster a genuine laugh, yet only managing half-hearted, embarassed chuckles. After several failed attempts, he finally excuses himself to the restroom and instead goes into a time machine sort of booth, resets his time, steps out and rejoins his friends at the table. Now, magically, everything he says just...fits right. And the sketch fades out.

That's how I feel about my writing... like my perspective is just...a hair off; not needed... out of sequence. Like my observations and viewpoint are just...out of time. Almost as if the time for my writing/ viewpoint/ perspective has, sadly, passed.

Now I sound like I feel sorry for myself. That's not true. I can't see anything other than how I see it, so there's no use in lamenting the fact, yeah? Maybe ...my viewpoint isn't commercially viable. So what? One could make the argument that Jane Austen's small worldview didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Her writing was critiqued by the Bronte's (blech. Can't stand them.) as being too naive and innocent. She was criticised for not venturing beyond her limited country upbringing for subject matter. Yet look at the impact her little world -- with the limited society and restricting manners -- has had on the larger literary world.

Now, I'm not saying I'm a Jane Austen, my ego will never be healthy enough to make that claim. What I am saying is this... if Jane Austen hadn't shared her talent with the people in her life -- because she shared her writing with her family and a few select close friends, at least for the most part -- if Cassandra had burnt all her stories in addition to most of her personal letters...imagine what we would have lost! Thank God, Austen showed her stuff to her family. Thank God they thought enough of her writing to seek publication on her behalf posthumously. Thank God her little world and her way of processing it has a treasure trove of interests for those of us who read and reread her works...treasuring them as the priceless legacy they are.

I have no such hope for my own stuff, because I'm 1) realistic and 2) ridiculously unintuitive. Austen had a grasp, in her short life, on the motivations and idiosyncracies of the people who populated her world. I am not sure I have either her intuitiveness nor her fearlessness in portraying, faithfully, the people who populated her world.

It takes courage to write what you know; to be true -- especially if you think it's uninspiring or uninventive or lacking in creative initiative -- to your own viewpoint, world view, 'limited' experience. Yet, you are the ONLY "You" in existence. No one else can have your unique viewpoint, no one else can inhabit your specific time/space continuum, no one else can hold the exact opinions and insights you hold.

Share that "You" in whatever way you can. Someone will find their life enriched by your gift.


DJ said...

Thank you for the encouraging article. It makes me dare to hope I might have something worth saying; and makes me want to see what you will come up with as well.

singinbren said...

Unique, you are, my friend, and I am so very glad. I can't wait either to read more of your work!