REMINDER: Last day to post W.O.M. poems for January is Thursday. Don’t miss it!
Here is my second response to this month’s WRITERS AT WORK topic. Next month it’s my turn to lead off so I’ll let you know the topic soon.
THE PERILS AND JOYS OF WRITING IN MANY GENRES
Response 4: David
January 25, 2011
And here we are on the final response to our fifth topic. If I’m counting right, Sandy, this will be the 21st episode of WRITERS AT WORK. Plus, there have been a number of comments and longer work shared by readers who have added significantly to our conversation.
So here I go with the joys of writing in many genres. For one, I share your sense of frightened exhilaration when an editor suggests something I’ve never tried and I hear those five familiar, crazy words flying from my mouth: “Sure, I can do that.” The closest sensation I can think of is that slight pause at the top of a roller coaster an instant before your car goes screaming down a slope you can’t possibly survive.
Jane Yolen says that writing is the more precious because we have to steal time to get it done. I offer a corollary: Writing in a new genre is the more invigorating because you have to survive to get it done. Such is the lure of the unknown and the chance to prove one’s self (again) that draws writers toward the flame. Sandy, I can’t decide if I have that much confidence in myself or simply need to add that survival word – no — to my vocabulary: You’ve accused me of that before but it takes one to spot a fellow sufferer.
Back to the subject. I began as a short story writer. But in my heart I knew that I could handle nonfiction. Thinking about that possibility gave me pleasure. I knew something that no one else knew. Lurking beneath my fiction writer veneer was a yet to be discovered writer of nonfiction. When I eventually found my wish coming true, I was very proud, but I had already enjoyed the idea for a long time before the fact.
But by then I was sure that beneath the nonfiction writer beat the heart of a poet. I knew I could write poetry. I thought about it, read about it, planned to do it, for a quarter of a century. I think of that long incubation period with its growing sense of anticipation as a joyful experience. It was a secret locked inside, exhilarating because I knew the day was coming when I would be done with putting it off. The day was coming when I was going to do it!
Sandy, do you have similar secret goals that you just simply know you can achieve when you get around to doing it? As you know, I’m a big fan of your plays and have been privileged to work with you twice on projects that have now been published and produced on stage. You’ve even offered to work with me on one of the plays. I couldn’t do it then, and perhaps I’ll never try, but I have long thought I could write a play. Who knows? I think I could be a sculptor, too, and a surgeon and an architect and a marine biologist. Maybe one day . . .
Until then, I will continue to find pleasure in the dreaming and joy when a dream comes true. Sandy, this has been a good topic. I’m eager to tackle the next one to be announced shortly.
The floor remains open for comments and other opinions.