December 23, 2007KR BlogUncategorized

Sunday Funnies: “You won’t always feel so depressed! Cheer up!”

Today’s cartoon was contributed by Mathew Digges.

As the year winds down, I can’t help but reflect on my past year of writing. There were the rejection slips, sure: These had pizazz! and These poems felt good! There was the daily demonic voice inside my head: You suck! Stop writing!’ But, there was good stuff too, that helped keep me focused on the whole reason I do this writing thing. I like to return often to Donald Hall’s essay:

“Every now and then I meet someone of personal greatness. I want to pat this person on the shoulder and mutter comforting words: ‘Things will get better! You won’t always feel so depressed! Cheer up!'”

A good friend sent me a delicious email that read “I still believe there is nothing greater than devoting your life to the written word.” My occasional crime has been that I’ve forgotten that writing is its own reward. I’ve woken with many a “this will change the world!” idea in my head, only to rush off to my teaching job or get interrupted by the cat scratching in the litter box, and then have returned to the Galaxie Twelve only to pick cat hair off the typewriter keys. ‘Oh, the horror! The horror!’

But I’ve also had the magical moments living with my characters, or getting to the perfect image in a poem I’ve been struggling with. Ray Bradbury warns that if we’re not having fun, then “get the hell out of writing.” You’ve got to let your ego go in order to keep going. I know, I know. But sometimes the wonderkids who self publish and make a gazillion dollars before puberty get me down again.

I have to look beyond myself for inspiration. Dorothy Allison says: “Writing is its own reward. It’s damn hard to make a living. Some of the greatest writers of this generation are out of print and don’t make a dime, but are still living in glory on the page. Day by day I know nothing more exciting than writing. Writing is writing. It’s not money, it’s not books, it’s not adulation or awards, and on some level it’s not really the reading, it’s the writing. And if you’re going to do this, you better fall in love with the work.”

So, despite all of the New Year’s resolutions we’ll each come up with– send more stuff to publishers, write a 1,000 words a day, complete a novel— I say instead that we should concentrate on the nuts and bolts, forget about the afterlife of our work, and just write.

Please Note: Sunday Funnies will be moving to the Prism Review Blog after the new year. Thanks for reading!