As Nora Ephron once wrote in the New York Times Book Review, “Fiction is chance to rework your life so that you give illusion of being intelligence at center of it.”
I’d settle for being either somewhat intelligent or at center of it – either one.
How ’bout you?
In our neck of the woods, it’s been a hard mast, meaning hard-shelled nuts have fallen in much higher-than-normal levels.
While the uncommon profusion is attributed to an unpredictable confluence of factors, it does provide a feast for squirrels, deer, and other wildlife. Any surplus surviving the predators then has a good chance to refurbish the forests and byways.
As has been noted, nature really is promiscuous.
Lean years, in contrast, limit the animal populations and their offspring.
Mast is most notably reported as acorns, but in our house, overshadowed by a black walnut tree, the golf ball-sized orbs are hammering the kitchen roof and trashcans. We keep thinking people are knocking at our backdoor or something big has fallen over downstairs or outside or even a crazy golfer neighbor is slicing his shots and hitting our house, one-two-three. They’re even a hazard to our parked cars.
Meanwhile, our squirrels are littering the stoops, patio table and chairs, and driveway with messes of shells that stain anything underneath black – is that the origin of black in the walnut variety’s name? But that’s not the only problem.
No, the nuts are so plentiful they make venturing out into the yard a treacherous course akin to walking on ball bearings or marbles. We haven’t fallen yet, but we’ve come close.
It’s especially troublesome when I have a load of firewood in my arms.
We aren’t alone in this, are we?
“You’re always nervous.”
“I run on nerves.”
Which part of my work would I most want “discovered”? Note, I didn’t say which part of me. How telling!
Apart from my journaling itself, it’s always hard for me to imagine writing that’s not intended for circulation, either among a small select circle or else a wide public. Anything else could be left as notes to myself. So I’m always surprised to hear otherwise, yet apparently there are many who practice the art purely for their own private pleasure.
On the other hand, I’ve also worked so hard, so long, to be invisible. To be among those sharply objective observers. The dispassionate yogi – even though ultimately, as I’m finding, passion is what counts, in life and in art. Read the Psalms, if you must, for divine confirmation.
For one thing, as I’m finally admitting, I’m finding how liberating and energizing the effort to candidly proclaim “I hate” x, y, or z can be. No more nice face requirement, but the full range of feeling, from noble to disgust.
Face it, there’s no visibility as a poet – and even novelists are surprisingly marginal these days.
So here it is, and there you are, doing whatever we do.