Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tearing It Up and Starting All Over Again

I tried to have a blog before. I failed. Now I'm trying again. But this time, with humility.

I had an idea before that I would use this space to write a kind of extended literary manifesto, something like Charles Baxter's Burning Down the House or John Gardner's The Art of Fiction. Fiction writing, fiction reading, is and has always been the most important thing in my life, and if I was going to say anything about it, I wanted my thoughts to be measured, precise, timeless, true. This would be fine if my thoughts were measured, precise, timeless, and true, but unfortunately they're not. They're jumbled and confused and internally contradictory, much to my chagrin, and beyond that, they are all mixed up in the stuff of my life, which is also fucked-up: I am an obsessive, neurotic, pathologically cranky person; I cry often; I am moved at times beyond reason by low art and I'm not talking about hipster low art I am talking, quite specifically, about Kids in the Hall and Fraggle Rock and MOVIE PREVIEWS, for God's sake; I live in New York City down the street from a halfway house nicknamed "the hotel" by residents and sometimes, staggering home after a long night out, I suspect I am mistaken for one of them; I read the news, including the tabloid news, and I am not immune to its hypnotic powers; and perhaps worst of all, I work in the publishing industry, which perfumes all my thoughts with the smell of money.

Who am I? I'm twenty-five, a failed novelist already, graduate of an MFA program that was very like Valhalla, except for the fact that after our coursework ended we were forced to return to the land of the living. I had the embarrassing misconception that all my life had led up to those two blissful years of artistic integrity, and since then -- well. In the film Patton, there's a scene after the war has ended, when George C. Scott sits atop an enormous horse, turning circles in a narrow barn while reporters ask him questions. He is like a ferocious creature who's been caged, a machine in storage. I feel like that sometimes, as pretentious as that sounds.

I've decided not to worry about sounding pretentious anymore, though, at least not here. I know at least one other person will probably read this, but this space isn't primarily meant for public consumption; it's where I'm going to put down my own thoughts and ideas and questions, about fiction but also about other kinds of art, and all the other junk that clutters up my mind. I'm going to try not to sound stupid, but I often will, and none of this is the final word on anything even for me. But I'm going to write here every day I can -- a message in a bottle from me to you, from the American cultural wasteland of the early 21st century.

1 comment:

V. Wetlaufer said...

You are not a failed novelist.