Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Confronting My Own Ignorance

February 6, 2013
    When it comes to writing projects I have hit the wall more times than I can count. I have two friends who are slaving away on major tomes and, if there's one thing I have learned from watching their efforts, it ain't easy. Gee, I wonder what the big time writers say about this journey:

"I am assailed with my own ignorance and inability." Yes, I get that all the time when I look in the mirror. This big time writer goes on, "No one knows my lack of ability the way I do. I am pushing against it all the time." And, "The new book has struck a bad snag. . .the subject is so huge it scares me to death." And then, "I've been writing on the novel but I've had to destroy it several times. I don't seem to know any more about writing a novel than I did ten years ago. You'd think I would learn."  Oh, and there's more grief, "the task seems insurmountable, because I keep losing the threads that tie me to the characters. Was ever a book written under greater difficulty?"

   That is John Steinbeck bemoaning his ignorance while writing "The Grapes of Wrath."

   How did he finish? Well, "Yesterday, I went over the whole of the book in my head—Fixed on the last scene, huge and symbolic, toward which the whole story moves. And that was a good thing, for it was a reunderstanding of the dignity of the effort and the mightyness of the theme. I feel very small and inadequate and incapable but I grew again to love the story which is so much great than I am. To love and admire the people who are so much stronger and purer and braver than I am."

   Well, if HE has trouble doing this we should all feel better.

"My whole work drive has been aimed at making people understand each other."
—John Steinbeck