04 February 2013

The New Morning After (blasting the past)

Greetings, weary-eyed Mondayers!

The Super Bowl hath passed and with it the completion of my downward spiral into unpredictability. Indeed, I reign at 100% in choosing the losing team in all NFL 2012-13 playoff games up to and including the Super Bowl. In other words, every team I wanted to win (regardless of whether I believed they could or should win) went on to lose. I've never been 100% before.

Now that the Super Bowl is done, life may resume unfettered. To be fair, and somewhat accurate, I do not arrange my life around a football game, even when it's the culmination of an entire season. Sure, I follow my teams and watch when they are televised in my area. However, I think of it more as "something to watch" in the vast weekly wasteland of television. In other words, given the lack of anything worth watching in the course of a week, a football game involving one of my favorite teams seems a fairly reasonable use of my time. 

Other than writing, of course. Or editing. Yesterday, however, seemed quite anticlimactic. I should have been writing. I did manage some editing during the blackout.

This morning I pounced on the ABNA page--that dang contest thingy I dropped my literary fiction masterpiece into--hoping for some non-football commentary. I admit I went a little silly. (FYI, you can read my 2013 excerpt here.) Being sarcastic to a degree I'm famous for proved elusive, though I gave it my all. Facebook also proved difficult to satirize, though I did post a picture of a tiny bunny.

Off the previous topic! 
[mostly borrowed from a blog post in 2011, in case you're new here]

I read the entries of discussion topics on the Amazon boards and found one about what writing one has done, apparently related to one's presumed qualifications to enter the contest or to be published. That got me reading. The first thought that came to my mind was that I had completely neglected to mention my publications in my ABNA bio. I've had a few stories and poetry published in journals, not big name publications but selected by a jury of my peers. 

The second thought I had was, yes, I've written several novels*--but I realized immediately that my hesitation to share that information was due to people wondering why they had not been published. That's an embarrassment. The answer, as unbelievable as it may seem, is that while I like writing I hate marketing. There is no rejection during writing, there is after writing.

I've sent manuscripts out a couple of times (in the old school process of the 1980s and 90s: the cost of sending a ream of paper out plus return postage, then waiting 6 months to a year for a response or returned manuscript, usually with a form letter; a few letters did have handwritten compliments and words of encouragement) and by the time they were rejected I was well on my way working on the next book. 

My batting average isn't high, but my times at bat isn't high either. I suppose I need an agent to do that sort of thing for me--which is another problem and another blog post

Part of that Amazon thread included questions about influences. 

I have written about that as part of my dissertation--a decidedly non-fiction work of scholarship masquerading as New Age mysticism. In that work, I broached the idea that literary influences--among all experiences--help shape and construct a person's identity, that is, the person's sense of self. I examined my own upbringing and the experiences which I could see had influenced me. That process opened doors I had long forgot existed and believed were shut forever. 

It was more, and went deeper, than merely reading certain books or seeing particular films. It was how the images (in the broader, abstract sense of symbolism) became embedded in my psyche and, as a writer, came out in my own stories. It was not a matter of consciously copying, even in homage, but a true regurgitation of material (concepts, images, words and phrases) I did not know had influenced me to such an extent that I had internalized them.

This realization was profoundly life-changing. Looking back through my writing, I could see how experiences in my life--childhood, teenage years, youth, not only events but my thoughts and feelings about those events; in other words psychic experiences, too--had made me who I am (or think I am [or want myself to be {or want others to think I am}]) today.

This is a topic worthy of greater reflection than what I am prepared to do in a blog posting. However, it has prompted me to consider writing more here on the topic. Perhaps it may be helpful for other writers to reflect on the sources of their inspiration, conscious and subconscious, perhaps unconscious (try digging that up!) and consider how they might use that handful of insight to further their writing, and perhaps also further the construction of their identity.

*--In Pursuit of Freedom, my 1976 novella (typed on a manual typewriter), a 1984 rip-off later retitled "The Lie" when turned into a screenplay in 1983 and optioned by a minor Hollywood studio. Followed by The Last Song (before Nicholas Sparks stole the title for a sappy romance novel); this novella (1981) is a post-apocalyptic soiree where music is the only solace for a ravaged population--half comedy, half lament. More works continued: see the list at the bottom edge of this blog's webpage!

(C) Copyright 2010-2013 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

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