Tuesday, March 27, 2012

without loss of enthusiasm

B R I G H T   D A Y 

by Stanley Moss

I sing this morning: Hello, hello.
I proclaim the bright day of the soul.

{the rest of the poem here}

And so this is a post about creative backlog.  Which is to say, these are photos that I don't mind terribly, but haven't much found a place for them.  I love the gloominess of the above photo, because it was right after the snow last week, and it seems to me so quiet - that particular quiet of the suburbs. The footsteps that have been filled with more snow.  And I have stopped to focus my camera, so the sound of my own footsteps, and the dog's (he will be sitting patiently beside me) have been hushed. It's gloomy, but the snow makes it bright.

Success consists of going from failure to failure

without loss of enthusiasm.

~ Winston Churchill

It's easy enough to put the photos I've taken behind me.  I can post them here or on Flickr, or both, and be done with them.  Start fresh with new ideas, new subject matter. It's always a very liberating moment when you've put them all behind you and are back to nothing.  The clean slate, the empty picture folder.

It's more difficult to do this with writing. Most writers have a manuscript or two in a drawer.  But it's awfully hard to go on with the next work until you've had some sort of closure with what you've written, especially if it's something you spent a large span of time working on.  So you arrive at this spot, where you have to make a decision.  Do you want to leave the manuscript in the drawer?  Or do you want to continue trying to find that reader/publisher who has a feeling for, and is receptive to, what you've done? (And even if you find this reader, they in turn may have to convince a committee of readers with wide-ranging tastes, backgrounds and philosophies of narrative).

All of this can take years, and if you've already spent a couple of years in this limbo, well, you begin to think that the drawer option is quite logical.

So, here it is.  You've created something, you in your solitude, and now you want to share it with a larger audience.  A lot of people have admired it, but perhaps an equal number of people have rejected it.

There's a nice bit by Joseph Campbell that goes like this:

"Bringing back the gift to integrate it into a rational life is difficult.  It is even more difficult than going down into the underworld. What you have to bring back is something that the world lacks - which is why you went to get it - and lacking it the world does not know that it needs it.  And so, on the return, when you come with your boon for the world and there is no reception, what are you going to do? There are three possible reactions:

One answer is to say, "To hell with them, I'm going back to the woods." You buy yourself a dog and a pipe and let the weeds grown in the gate. You have come back to the world with your gift, and people look at you with glassy eyes, call you "a kook," and so you retreat. This is refusal of the return.

The second way is to say, "What do they want?" You have a skill. You can give them what they want, the commercial way. Then you have created a whole pitch for your expressivity, and what you had before gets lost. You have a public career, and you have renounced the jewel.

The third possibility is to try and find some aspect of the domain into which you have come that can receive a little portion of what you have to give.  You try to find a means to deliver what you have found as the life boon in terms and in proportions that are proper to the world's ability to receive. It requires a good deal of compassion and patience.  Look for cracks in the wall and give only to those who are ready for your jewel."  

And so that's where I'm sitting right now.  Wondering whether to leave the manuscript in the drawer, to persist in the extremely slow process of finding a publisher, or to embrace all the new technologies and possibilities that now exist in the world of publishing.  How to deliver this odd, quirky book I've written in proportion and proper to the world's ability to receive. I think it's meant to be read by maybe a hundred readers, which in fact feels rather lovely to me.  I have a few ideas, and have been exploring options, which I'll share as I go along.  The thing that I don't want to lose, is the enthusiasm I have and have had for this project, that much I know.


  1. love to be the first crack in the wall that is ready to receive find a way.
    the drawer will not reply.
    the cracks are pretty insular, silent types but they eventually reply....even this (crack)pot figured out how to post a comment after years of mostly silent admiration....

  2. yes yes! the third way. the challenging one, taking the most patience. but most worth it.

  3. Pursuing it to publication is just a different drawer to put it in. Both are letting it drop away, and let it percolate into whatever comes next. One way of the dance, others might benefit more directly. Does the keeping from closure prevent moving past to new? Or it's sharing would be pure cream?

  4. well, i think i've been pursuing publication but meeting resistance in that's not a book that a committee can seem to agree on. there's either love or hate, but can't win the vote....and i do find it hampers me in moving forward. so. : )

    thanks you all for your kind words, your wisdom...


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