Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thoughts on The Craft -- c.anne.gardner

In the history of literature, there are many great enduring works which were not published in the lifetimes of the Authors. If the Authors had not achieved self-affirmation while writing, how could they have continued to write? -- Gao Xingjian
I will leave you with that today, since I am struggling at the moment trying to achieve my own self-affirmation. The path of a writer is an arduous one to take, fraught with doubt, reproach, and flat out rejection. At one turn we feel confident we have finally gotten it “right” and at the next, we can come face to face with the realization that we weren’t even close. Yet each new day, we get back to it.

Cheryl Anne Gardner


Brent Robison said...

I understand the feeling. And re: the quote, I would even suggest (to the horror of the traditional publishing establishment) that many great works were never published at all and have simply disappeared into the black hole of the past. So the struggle for self-affirmation is important... and one thing I like to remember is Annie Dillard's comment: those thoughts that tell us our work is great or it's worthless are both just mosquitos to be slapped as we keep on with our writing.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Thanks Brent, love that quote. All things considered though, let me just say with all the rain we've been getting here on the east coast USA, the mosquitos are many and have the disposition of rabid squirrels.

Swatting them away isn't really an option. :)

roger sakowski said...

A strange attraction to the unrequited love of art drives most of my efforts. When I write a sentence that resonates with me, I’m tickled to death. Then I’m brought down to earth with the thought: What comes next. Frightening thought. Luckily I’m a patient man. Sooner or later, another sentence seems to come along. I take a deep breath and cross my fingers that it has some relationship to the one previously written. Too often the sentences are mutually exclusive, even contradictory; their only bond is me. It’s a struggle to put one artful sentence next to another in such a way as to make both ring true, at least for me. Therein lays the inner conflict of affirmation and doubt.

The external conflict is simpler: I write stuff that’s a bit odd and I want normal people to like it. So time and again I stare doom in the face by handing my work to someone I guilt-tripped into reading it. Normally, politeness rules and the individual tells me that the work is pure genius. I’m elated until the individual tells me why it’s a work of genius: it reminds him or her of the family pet, the font was just perfect, it can be read in it’s entirety in a single visit to the bathroom, etc.

What to do?

Here’s how I answer that: I don’t write to be read; I write to understand what I think. Now all the problems are resolved: affirmation and doubts are comfortable in each other’s company, and normal people are free to read ingredients labels if they so desire. Furthermore, my work just might find a place in some abnormal person’s book shelf.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Thanks for that Roger. Your book found a place on mine.

I had a recent comment stating that my term "the misty grey corner of nowhere and no place" was redundant because mist is grey. I wasn't sure what to make of that one, except that literary doesn't mean literal. I don't recall misty grey being in my crayon box, and I have the 64 color one. But then again, I wasn't speaking of a color but a state of mind. What can you do.

But your right. Affirmation has to come from within. Every reader's tastes are different, and I have yet to figure out what "normal" is.

roger sakowski said...

Wonderful! An abnormal (heretofore referred to as an “abby”) with my book on her shelf; the world is a better place today. But I have a question: are any of your books available in ebook editions. I picked up the Sony Reader and I’d like to build my library. I decided against the kindle because I hate proprietary, closed systems. At any rate, I’d love to get my hands on your stuff.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

I had all my first editions out of print for a while while I shifted companies and started my own imprint, so most are still in the revision process. Kissing Room is available as a pdf from Scribd and Thin Wall will be back as a PDF as well in a week or so. I found a major issue I had to correct for the good of my own sanity, then it will be back out again.

I don't have any in e-pub format. I haven't mulled that over yet, and so I used kindle only for now.