Sometimes, I think it would’ve been cool to live in the time of Shakespeare and Marlowe. Sometimes. Will built his reputation as a playwright on stage: here, here is my work. Come one, come all; admire me… Kit’s reputation is a little more colorful: rumored to be a British spy, a roust-about, killed in a bar fight. They were creative in hawking their wares, so to speak. Although, I doubt Marlowe planned getting stabbed in the eye in a fight over the tab in a bar and dying. But it’s easy to romanticize them. They were living their dream, without day-jobs.
No social media, or blogging. No J. K. Rowling (whose writing, I admit, improved over time), or Stephanie Myer (whose writing did not) to compete with. No James Frey. Or Oprah. No hi-fi, wi-fi, 3D, LCD, HD. They didn’t multi-task.
Pens were dipped in ink and set to paper. I can imagine them, sitting around a dimly lit table, sharing their work. Did they meet and critique each other’s work? Like Swift, Gay, and Pope? Like Tolkein and Lewis? Imagine critiquing The Lord of the Rings!
I’m sending work out. Some editors respond quickly. Some slowly, and some move at the speed of stillness. I sit and wonder, are they reading? Rereading? Debating with their team? Did they hate it? Think it was so bad that the author, me, wasn’t even worthy of response? It’s hard on the ego. And creativity.
These are legitimate fears. I’ve never been part of the “in” crowd – not even in the Catholic school. That’s pretty bad. So words were my closest friends. I gravitated towards school newspapers—the smell of the mimeograph from Sister Mary Victor’s office is one of the most vivid memories of my grammar school days. We collected up our poetry and stories. Someone, probably one of the nuns, typed it all up. And then we eagerly volunteered to carry our magic—our word—down the long hall to the office. Immortalizing our words in blue.
Later, I worked on the yearbook and literary publications. I hung out in the English Departments in high school and college. I thought about being a librarian.
I grew up imagining Will Shakespeare – it’s estimated that he knew 66,534 words. I imagined having conversations with him. Being humbled by his intellect. I wondered if he was part of the cool kids club. I doubted it. Did his school-mates in Stratford-upon-Avon say, I knew him when… Did they understand that they were all fodder for his art? I did.
I will forever wonder who got his first best bed.
I just emailed two nonfiction pieces to a friend, and left another in a Dropbox folder for two other friends. I’ll post this blog on WordPress and Open Salon. And then “advertise” it on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+. I’ll put tags on it. Hope people “retweet it, “like” it, or “rate” it. Pray the Editors select it. It’s a lot of work. I’ll count the hits to each site. More readers? Fewer? Readers are fickle. Why would people stop reading? How did I attract new readers? What’s the magic formula?
I’ll look to see if Open Salon has a new open call. Consider responding. Listen to the rhythm of my daily life, and try to find a nugget to expound upon. It’s not really about what’s happening in my life—but finding the right lens to focus on any given moment. The appropriate point-of-view. And then the right audience. Do I post it here? Send it there? Keep it a while? Delete and start over?
It seems to me the ultimate contradiction. Writers, generally speaking, are a sensitive lot. And yet they must always put themselves out there, be vulnerable to criticism.
In the madness of modern living, I eek out moments in which to write. Between work and family. This isn’t Tinker Creek, with the sound of flowing water being the only distraction. I’m slouching towards something, for sure. But probably not Bethlehem.
What I’ve learned isn’t that the silence is precious—but that the distraction can be worthy. That the little, nonsensical moments in my day are noteworthy when focused with my pen—keyboard. The grass can be greener here because I am acknowledging the chaos of my life. The characters I love: the people in my life.
So, readers, the next time you read a blog that touches you; makes you laugh, cry, empathize, or sympathize rate it, like it, share, or retweet it. Not just my blog, but any that you read. It gives the writer the validation that Will and Kit got in the applause…
Otherwise, we’re left listening to the flowing water and wondering if anyone understood – read. Response provides the confidence to do it all over again tomorrow.
That all said here are some worthy reads:
What blogs do you read?
Word Count: 817