Tuesday, February 4, 2014

This Is True

"I felt that I was packaging something as delicately pervasive as smoke, one box after another, in that room, where my only duty was to describe reality as it had come to me--to give the mundane its beautiful due."

Here is John Updike, and I believe him. That's the kind of work I want to do. This is a beautiful part of writing, looking at the world and paying attention. I have never been one of those writers, though, who claim the character just took over. Never. I am not transcribing thoughts or speech from someone who does not exist, although as a young person I sought this, definitely. I'd been reading about the tragic life of Robert E. Howard and some description of him writing the first Conan story quickly and without thought, as if he were taking dictation. I knew he'd lived a hard life and ended it himself, yet I was too young for that prospect to seem close enough to worry about--it was just part of his narrative. So I read this story about his writing and thought it was the proper life, to give yourself to this imaginary world. I thought of him as heroic, and of living a life that defied the impoverished world in which he lived.

I don't think that any more. And I think Updike's quotation above is perfect.

1 comment:

  1. love the musings, only wonder if the Updike will eventually expire in your future truths, too...

    “Doubtless these are inconsequential perplexities. Still, inconsequential perplexities have now and again been known to become the fundamental mood of existence, one suspects.”
    ― David Markson, Wittgenstein's Mistress