Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stillborn Posts

I often perform housecleaning chores for this blog. After exhaustive and obsessive proof-reading, I still find grammar errors and typos, skipped words and wrong words. I revisit awkward (or downright embarrassing and badly written patches) to try to clean them up. I have found a few instances where I wrote the exact opposite of what I meant. How does that happen?

I also delete the drafts - posts that were never completed - ideas that failed to reveal their moving parts. I am glad to clear away the ill-formed, stunted thoughts but I am not always sure I should exorcise them. A few times I have returned to finish a draft, or the idea transformed into another thing that could be written. Mostly the drafts are stillborn, ideas without volition, and I do not want them littering the work space.

For most of my life I did not write until an idea or thought or emotion became too insistent. Then I would write poetry. I could not write because I was not a gifted writer - not good enough by my own standards. Now that I am old and running out of time, I do not care whether my writing is good or not, whether anyone reads it or not. I simply want to write. I am the only person who sees things exactly the way I see them. I am the only one who can tell my own stories, whether I tell them with skill or not.

Everyone born is an artist of some thing, a creator - a family, a body of work as a career, a gardener, a flute maker, a farmer, a mechanic, a painter, a student, a friend. A life is always of some magnificence even if it is considered squandered or wasted. It is only our addictions to false judgment that places one creation above another.

For a brief time some of my water paintings were for sale in a local shop, at the insistence of my instructor. They were very modestly priced (cheap). I was thrilled when the first one sold, and astonished that anyone would spend money for my paintings. It was impossible for me to value my own work.

One day a local "character" (as if I am not a local character myself!) came into the shop with several of his oil paintings. They were portraits of his friends and the paintings were hideous. They were garish and clownish - a child could easily have done better. I felt very sorry for him. He was so proud of his work that he was trying to sell it. He believed someone would want his paintings. I could not imagine anyone giving him money for those terrible paintings. I swear, fifteen minutes later he returned to the shop jubilantly waving the cash he had received from a tourist for one of his paintings. That one piece earned more money than the combined total of all my sold paintings. For all I know, the painting he sold that day was one of his bad ideas.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." Ecclesiastes 9:10. Yet one more comforting quote from the Old Testament...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm admittedly and unabashedly biased. I don't remember exactly when we began an online affair, (well over 10 years and counting) but I appreciate your abilities with our language.

I cherish the times your words have provided light in darkness and the way those words make love to my mind.

We, your readers, whether faithful or curious, keep coming back to visit with you, Duke, the chickens and Spirit Creek.

In my humble opinion, yes, you can write.