Thursday, June 9, 2011

Writing About It

   It troubles me.  I retired from my life as a teacher and stage director in 1991, fully expecting to be close to the end of Everything. And here I am, twenty years later, at this keyboard, writing-- about angling and, as I have threatened, about everything else. I have delighted in the discovery that most anything can be thinly disguised and stuck into talk of fishing. All sorts of ideas can peak through the remarkably expansive and elastic language of angling.
    I began casually enough, when I retired and was no longer in the swing of things, things that tended to lock me out of the bastions of new critical theory about the drama and the theatre.
    I got more and more into writing about angling, not the how or where of it, but more the ideas of it, and found myself wanting to think of myself as “a writer” an essayist, a critic. But the words stuck in my throat. I couldn’t say them. I had taught school barely long enough to feel that I had earned the right to be called “a teacher”. Surely I am not now qualified to be called  “a writer”!
   But, I managed to get out a couple of books, another couple of significant miscellany, and a slew of essays in various magazines, newspapers, and my gazette. I has been satisfying.
   What may a person be called?  And who is to do the calling? I’ve always wondered, for instance, how one might come to be called “ a poet”. It seems to me impertinent and presumptuous to call one’s self A POET, to be able to say, “I am a poet”. Along with Keats? And Yeats, and Frost!  It’s like pretending to deity.
    If one is, in fact, a Poet, and not merely a scribbler of verses, let him be so identified as such by others than himself, by the public, if not the ages. I want to be just a plain, common ordinary old “writer”. But I’m wary of the presumption even of that.
    Who is a writer? After all?  Is he merely one who writes pages that two or more people will read?  Or is she something grander? In the old days, of writers, publishers, editors, and presses, a person striving to be a writer had to have written something that a publisher could hand to an editor and send through a press and to bookstores and news-stands in the belief that someone or other, preferably lots of them, would want to pay to read.
  1.    All that has changed. Now everyone and anyone can get into the act.
They can do as I do here: blog out into the cloud to their heart’s content. We used to have to convince a publisher and editor to accept our stuff; we had to win over the experts and the bosses. Not any more.
   Now, writing is published so casually in the plethora of periodicals, even books that are skimmed, if at all, by faceless editors. So much junk writing to fill spaces in which one despairs of human kind as a prescient species. It comes and it goes, disappearing into who knows what or where. At least we are getting all those words, sentences, and articles done with, and out of the house, no longer daily reminded of their inadequacies.
   On the other hand, I feel fortunate indeed to have written a good many essays for a journal** that is periodically indexed and its issues kept active on the shelves of a couple of proper libraries in which researchers can get at serious writing.
   Now, astonishingly enough, we can write anything at all, bypassing all editorial interference or publisher’s whim-- good or bad, competent or incompetent, stuff that someone might just be curious enough about to pull down out of the cloud and actually read. And it’s free.
   And so, the upshot is that, in a minute or two, I will post this bit of rumination upon the act of writing on my blog, writing about writing, and taking comfort in Emerson’s assurance that every one of us “stands in need of expression”. One way or another, we can’t do without it.
** The American Fly Fisher,        quarterly journal of
                          The American Museum of Fly Fishing, Manchester, Vermont.


Ray said...

Hello, Gordon. Mary Cahlane has posted a link to your blog on Facebook, which I will be happily subscribing to. Although I am in no wise an angler, I'm sure I will enjoy your musings. I think back fondly to learning a great deal from you and wish to take this opportunity to thank you for all of it. All the best to you and your family -- Ray Montecalvo

BlogDog said...

Peek through, nez pah?

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