Today, we’re back in Cape Breton. The wind is shaking the trees loose from their leaves, and Grinder, our snow blower, has already had me down on bended knees with grass, wood chips and mud dampening my clean blue jeans, as I performed some emergency surgery. This involved the loosening up of his little paws to make it possible to get him started. Which would give us a fighting chance of holding off the relentless attacks of snow which use our yard as a shortcut.
These days, I find myself standing on the porch, gazing out over the huddling mountains, looking at the sky and wondering if the snow forces are already formed up and ready to rush over the mountain and plunge us into another winter battle.
And Skippy, the squirrel, is terribly quiet. He wasn’t when the wood was first delivered, but now, since we’ve returned from Kingston, we haven’t heard a swear word from him. I think he used his time wisely while we were away. I wish him a cozy winter in behind the many stacks of firewood.
Finally, because this is my twenty-ninth blog, yeah, I decided to take a little time to rant. Use a few words to spout off. Get some irritations off my chest because there are times in my life when a rant is about all I can do.
However, I have had some irritating personal experiences lately. Also, I have read and listened to authors and other artists discussing this topic, so I think that my spouting off isn’t uselessly spinning towards a distant galaxy. May the force be with you, Hal.
One night, at a bar, I was talking to a fella. We got to talking about art and writing and that sort of thing. He’s a playwright and has a movie floating around called, ‘21 Brothers’. I haven’t watched it but it can be found at these establishments: Amazon, Hunes, Shaw and Cogeco and DVDs are available at HMV and Amazon. I’m planning on watching this movie and I believe it has been positively critiqued.
Anyway, he was talking about sending the movie off and the marketers getting hold of it and, well ———, I don’t want to say too much but there are a lot of sharks out there in the Marketers’ Ocean of Despair.
I’ve been exposed to the forces that be and if I’m going to protect anything, beyond my family and friends, it’s my art.
You see, my writing isn’t based upon how much I sell, although I’m definitely not against selling.
It’s not based on becoming a famous writer. Do I have to worry?
I write because I love to write. I’ll admit that I enjoy hearing that my writing is being read but that’s secondary to the actual writing.
However, like my friend who made a movie, artists are under constant pressure. Pressure from their own creativity and emotional foibles. Pressure from the marketing world where there is always a better way presented to get the readers’ attention or a more profitable place suggested where they can feed out their work. Many of these folks are willing and eager to take your dollars to help you become known and re-known.
Then there’s the occasional acquaintance who thinks he knows the best way for you to get your work known is to get it on the big screen.
For some, it’s just because they want to see you become successful, but for others it’s an attempt to own your work or at least ride on your coat-tails to some pre-conceived marketing success. I’m not sure how fast the ride would be if you hopped onto my coat-tails.
I once asked a fella, ‘What is the difference between a writer and most of the marketers and critics?’ I was actually surprised when he didn’t have the answer.
The answer to this quiz question is, ‘Writers write’.
That’s the thing about writers. They write and they’re not always so proficient with the selling part.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with searching for help. And many of us have the creativity to think outside the box and sell our work, but that takes energy. Also, there’s a certain amount of anxiety about single-mindedly spouting off about our work. Which, I think, might be wed to the sense of nurturing and mindfulness we have for our inspirations?
One piece of advice I have heard about writing is, ‘Don’t talk your story out.’ Why not? Because it can sap your need to write. The little or big story you’re going to tell gets out too early and like wine bottled too soon, it’s watery and tasteless.
The emotions and ideas must soak in time and thought and when they’re ready, and only then, can they be fruitfully and organically lifted out of our minds and placed full-bodied unto the paper or screen.
Maybe one could also say, “Don’t market your vision away.” Too much emphasis on marketing can flatten the writing energy. Some selling needs to be done, but I’m not willing to use up too much energy doing it. I’m not willing to twist and turn the mystery that drives me to write in the first place, so I can grab a chunk of readership. I like to call my marketing efforts ‘soft marketing’.
You see, I want my little bubble of magic to be sitting comfy and cozy, on a soft patch of grass, her privacy protected by a mountain of wild forest and wind. Covered by a thin veil of gentle mist, faintly perfumed with fir and spruce scent, camouflaged and chameleon-like. Suckling on the universe’s unfathomable ocean.
I want it to be only as clear as will allow it to remain a heartfelt enigma. A contrast to the eager grasping of our society as it attempts to get hold of everything that is worth anything.
Throwing out a little bafflement never hurts. So, as with a good poem you have read, you have a sense that the poem has no solid mental perimeters. An awareness, faint but present, that there’s an idea or emotion that hasn’t yet been fully plumbed.First, I would like to say that this is not directed against all marketers, nor all those who try to help writers and me in particular, including all my friends and colleagues who give me their kind support.
And it’s because of my black and white background that I have become an expert at recognizing when my creative vision is under threat. I might even have to consider myself hyper-sensitive.
And guess what? When I hear somebody tell me that they know what’s best, that they are certain they are correct when it comes to how I should write, what I should write, how I should market, the existence of a pink elephant hiding in the back of my truck, or anything else for that matter, I realize there are a hell of a lot of black and white thinkers out there besides those who are labelled fundamentalists.
That thou lovest well remains,
the rest is dross
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee"
Ezra Pound, Canto LXXXI- libretto
what you love, you will protect.
William Noble, in his book ‘Conflict, Action and Suspense’ wrote, “It’s pretty well acknowledged that readers “hear” as well as see words on the page. That is, word sounds and word images play in the readers’ minds even as their eyes scan the words. Some have referred to this as “the music of words.”
So, using this quote as an introduction, I’d like to quote another section of an Ezra Pound poem.
“Go, my songs, to the lonely and the unsatisfied,
Go also to the nerve-wracked, go to the enslaved-by-convention,
Bear to them my contempt for their oppressors.
Go as a great wave of cool water,
Bear my contempt of oppressors.
Speak against unconscious oppression,
Speak against the tyranny of the unimaginative,
Speak against bonds.
Go to the bourgeoise who is dying of ennuis,
Go to the women in suburbs.
Go to the hideously wedded,
Go to them whose failure is concealed,
Go to the unluckily mated,
Go to the bought wife,
Go to the woman entailed."
Ezra Pound, “Commission”