I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a pretty good guess. I’m getting tired of this repetitive, circular (is that the same thing?), and essentially useless discussion and debate about the death of bound book publishing, the future of the book, genetically modified thumbs for texting speed, the lost art of reading, the ipad generation to come, the takeover of culture by cadres of bean counters, and the rest of the silliness that dominates otherwise intelligent life.
It has occurred to me that there is an obscene discrepancy between how much time I have been spending on impotent arguments and discussions about these topics when compared with how much time I have spent with the writing itself.
Making a presumption that it is the writing itself that remains fundamental. We alive and writing today may be the last generation (me toward the end, some of you in the middle, and a few at the beginning) who even know how to do this — tell stories by writing them down. I think we have a moral cultural obligation to be the best generation of writers if we are the last generation of writers. It is the only thing we can control. Bound books may survive, or not; book publishers may go the way of Western Union telegrams, or not; we may all grow Sissy Hankshaw thumbs, or not … nobody is in control of these things; they have been tossed over the cliff, and changing one’s mind in midair is not going to fix it. We are in control and responsible for what we write. Period again.
I am of the opinion that conversations about writing are not of much value, among people who actually write, I mean. Maybe conversations about writing among readers is worth something. But I don’t think writers ought to waste time talking about what they do. Because there is an inevitable leaching between us, an unwitting absorption of particular, distinctive creative consciousnesses that dilute the work. I was having a conversation recently with one of Donko’s Dozen about this problem. The best way for writers to talk about writing is to have a conversation about anything else.
I’m reminded of a student writer once asking me what I thought was a good job for writers. Gas station attendant, I answered, and only partially facetiously. Actually, as I’ve mentioned, by favorite job as writer was being a janitor in athletic field house. I gave this job to the writer character in The Common Bond. If a writer has to do something besides write to survive, then I think the best thing to do is whatever requires the least mental effort. If you are writing well, then you are going to need all the mental reserves you’ve got. The assumption being that you are writing well, the best you are capable of.
So I’m giving a rest to all this subsidiary noise about things that are out of my control. When I have something to say here, it will either be directly about the writing itself, or just interesting or intelligent conversations we can have on the bench about cars, or girls, or weather, or chess, or touring, or food, or wine, or the view from a window.
I hope you’ll take a seat and get a conversation started.