Don’t get excited. I haven’t a clue.
I only wish it weren’t lurking in me, like a purple-green tumor.
I spoke in a prior post of how knowing one belonged to “the tribe of writers” did not exactly console or comfort, in the long and short of it. Writers are a strange and eclectic bunch; tensions and differences and (God knows) jealousies abound.
Here’s something that’s equally true, that can maybe act as a small antidote to discouragement prompted by announcements of the New Hotties in American literature which can, after a while, take on an almost satiric sameness:
When I find a writer I truly love it makes me unspeakably happy to tell everyone I know about him or her. And I’m not kidding about this. It feels more gratifying that I can describe to tell people, “Here is someone whose work is angelic, and here are all the reasons why. You must go find and read this person’s books immediately. And then come talk to me and tell me why you love that writer, too.”
What happens then is that a tired, old energy gets reversed: the energy of exhausted desire—what’s in it (or lacking) for me; what’s coming (or not coming) to me; when will the good stuff happen for me, and so on and so on; a dangerous, toxic litany.
What happens in that reversal is a transfusion of new energy: the energy of Oh yeah, this experience is why I entered the game in the first place.
So I understand better the soul-saving tactic (which I’ve observed others using) of keeping alert to the work that feeds you something gorgeous, work that reminds you what the whole business is for—instead of letting discouragement take over.
Because—finally and rather brutally—if you let discouragement take over, nothing gets done.
And we’re not here that long. We don’t have that kind of time.
Joan Frank is the author of five books of fiction, and a recent essay collection called Because You Have To: A Writing Life, just nominated for the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award in Nonfiction. Joan holds an MFA in creative fiction from Warren Wilson College, is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award in Short Fiction, Richard Sullivan Prize, Dana Award, and is the recipient of grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and Sonoma Arts Council. A two-time nominee for the Northern California Book Award in Fiction and San Francisco Library Literary Laureate, Joan has taught creative writing at San Francisco State University, and continues to teach and edit in private consultation. Joan also regularly reviews literary fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review. She lives in Northern California.