While driving home from the coffee shop, I listened to a story on NPR. The discussion was about the recent decline and again rise of the Barbie doll. As a seventy plus old man, I gave up playing with dolls many years ago, but the story caught my attention. There was one part of the discussion that made me take notice. In the reshaping (no pun intended) of the Barbie, it was noted that Barbie now writes a blog. She not only writes a blog, but she also has 10,000,000 followers. Yep, 10,000,000 – that’s with seven zeroes. I have xagbugmgfdmbfkl followers of my blog. Am I jealous? Intrigued? Hopeful? Amazed? All the above and more.
To the point of this factoid, it made me stop and once again think about why writers write. As is often stated, fame and fortune await in all would-be author’s dreams. In my novel The Unusual Man, this desire for literary fame and fortune didn’t turn out well for one of the characters.
More modestly, I think many of us write with the hope that others will read our work. It usually does not take long, especially for self-published authors to realize they may not want to order that new Porsche based on expected royalty payments. Still, I believe that any author would be lying if they didn’t get a thrill when reading a review that someone liked their work or identified with a character. As Dr. Hook once sang, there’s no thrill like the thrill you get when you get your picture in the cover of the Rolling Stone. Not the same, but it is a thrill to read – “I really enjoyed your story.”
The human species has been designed or has evolved to create; some of us create by writing. Putting words to paper, revising, editing, adding, reducing, changing, moving and at some point, being satisfied is a thrill. I recently visited with a friend who is an artist. She creates beautiful work on a canvas, some several feet in width and height. When asked about it, she said, “It’s the creation of something beautiful.” She was not bragging, (although she has every right to) she was being honest. I believe most writers wish to fulfill that same goal, to create beauty.
Another part of that discussion was about doing the best we can. Not just showing up but showing up and giving our all. As my good friend Wes says, “”I’m no Hemingway,” but he is Wes, and he writes well and gives his best effort when he does. I think that’s enough.
I have recently experienced an event of nature that somehow seems to fit into this discussion. A young mama dove giving birth to two hatchlings. She laid the eggs, she sat patiently for nearly two weeks until they hatched and now sits and lets them grow. Soon they will leave their nest, they will make lives of their own. A bit like the human species. But carefully watching this event has moved something inside my soul. Maybe learning, accepting this ‘something,” is the essence of being human. Observing carefully and watching something beautiful and natural take form. It may sound like hyperbole but in some way, it has had a profound effect on my life.
Another event, seemingly no more important recently occurred. I watched a PBS special of the late John Prine in concert. I’ve liked his music for decades, but this brief program conveyed his musical genius in a simple manner. He stood and simply played his songs. I suspect he knew at some level that he was not long for this life. For some unexplained reason I found myself crying. I think, and hope it is in part because I’m taking a bit more time to see what I see, to hear what I hear and to feel what I feel.
So I will continue to go about putting words to paper, watching baby doves hatch and listening to John Prine sing about Muhlenberg County and telling me to Come On Home.
“In nature nothing is perfect, and everything is perfect.” Alice Walker
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu
Louie’s Book Bark
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano is a wonderfully written novel. A commercial airline crashes and 13-year-old Edward is the only survivor. Napolitano tells a masterful story of his life and his attempt at understanding after the death of his brother and parents while at the same time bringing to life several of the victims of the crash. A worthy book.
Go well, David.