That's right, I just don’t know.
I watched a documentary about Coco Channel today, and then tonight one on Jake Shimabukuro – one of the greatest and youngest ukulele players of all time. Just two of the many, many documentaries I’ve seen of famous and not-so-famous people in the world. One commonality they all have in common is the mutual drive and commitment to perfect their craft and talent.
So, what about me? Do I have it? I’m seventy-two years old. I’m a writer. A novelist. Can I possibly attain my goals at this late stage of the game? Evidently not at their levels of achievement or I’d be out there right now.
So I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Right now I’m sitting here sneezing my head off with itching, swollen eyelids – upper and lower – wondering if I should go to the doc tomorrow, the itchy swelling seems to be getting worse. Most likely an allergy of some sort, but probably need to check it out. I put some of my standard home remedy Neosporin on my eyelids, hoping it would cut down some of it, which gave me some relief. Nose is stuffed up now. Jeez!
Through it all I’m feeling somewhat perplexed and frustrated about my age and wondering how much time I have left to write that bestseller, and to get my writing to the point that I can honestly say … “Damn, that’s good! I did that!” For I not only want to be writing for the masses, I want to be saying something worthwhile, albeit entertaining at the same time.
Deep, that’s what I try to do. Write deep. One of my friends writes essays, deep, serious essays. That’s not what I mean when I say deep. I’m not interested in writing about ‘human cloning and religious ethic’ or ‘evaluating the role of outstanding personalities in 16th and 17th centuries’ … listed as subject matter for essays on the ‘Good Essay Topics’ website, in case you’re interested in finding an essay topic.
When I say deep I mean deep into the minds of my characters. Getting into their subconscious minds. One author who was famous for that was Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I’ve mentioned this before. My Lord, could he ever get into the subconscious. When I can do that, I will be happy. I do at my level right now, actually. Just need to get to his level. His life experience had a lot to do with it, I’m sure.
Another of my all time favorite novelists of whom I wrote a play about, depicting her life from age twelve to ninety-two, is Catherine Cookson. She was dictating a novel into a recorder when she took her last breath and slumped over in her chair, dead. She wrote her first novel when she was forty-four after she took up writing as therapy to combat depression, had a vascular disease which prevented her from having children. A true rags to riches story - an illegitimate birth as Catherine McMullen in the Tyne Dock area near Newcastle, died as Dame Catherine Cookson a multi-millionaire, one of the richest in Britain. She too was able to get into the subconscious of her characters and make them leap off the pages. More life experience.
So I’m thinking that the life experience a writer has in addition to the talent is very important when it comes to writing those characters, making them real, breathing life into them, getting into their minds. Of course, a writer must have imagination, but drawing from his own experience adds another depth to the characters. It’s the difference between a character written by a ten-year-old and a ninety-year-old.
So if age has anything to do with writing deep, then maybe I’m still on track.
Regardless, I certainly do not have a choice. I write because that’s who I am. I read, I study, I write. I experience, I live, I write. I suffer, I love, I write. In a nutshell, I am a writer.