Not There Yet!

Simon Vouet, Les Muses Uranie et Calliope, c. 1634. Samuel H. Kress Collection

I’m thinking about the way I write and have written. How that has changed over time. How it seems to be missing something, and then doesn’t seem to miss a thing. How my own sense of my writing has undergone changes out of sync with the writing itself.

I know what I want, though. I want my prose and my poetry to be lyrical and muscular, two possibly opposing values. I want it to be tough and hard-nosed like Hemingway, lyrical like Rilke, whimsical and elegant like Stevens. I want elements of slap-stick silliness and despair found in Boris Vian and Henri Michaux to combine with Woolf’s ability to extend and stop time under waves. I want my writing to be as funny as Flann, as heart-breaking as Hardy, and as mystical as Rumi.


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There are no nations in the Republic of Letters, or in the coming Republic of Arts. Tribes, perhaps. But no nations. Can I still say, then, that I want to be as Teutonic as Musil, as Hispanic as Vallejo, as Asian as Kawabata? As Russian as Bely, as Italian as Pirandello, as French/Jewish/Egyptian/Italian as Edmund Jabes?

Those who transcend. Those who can not be pinned down. Ever. I want my writing to entail and extend and expand that. Like Milan Kundera, like Kafka, like Chinua Achebe, Like the Egyptian, Lebanese, French novelist Andree Chedid.

And with that writing I will paint, and sing, and play the beautiful piano in my living room. Wanting to do all these things at the same time, I will go through periods without doing any of them. Wanting to write like the many listed above, I will go through periods without writing at all.

Harold Bloom talks about the anxiety of influence. How this has to be overcome by all writers on their way to their own voice, their own place in the pantheon. For me, the anxiety has been crippling at times, exhilarating in other ways, destructive, instructive and . . . and . . .

When I write about writing I do not write. I wait for her.



Not There Yet!
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