Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Accumulation of experience

I forgot to mention yesterday, in my list of accomplishments, how much better my Scrabble game has gotten in the past ten years. All comers, look out.

Rereading yesterday's post, I realize I may come across as sanctimonious, pious. Not my intention, that intimation. I get overwhelmed with my good fortune sometimes (and then feel ridiculously grateful as in, you know, I'd like to thank the Academy...). So I mention that despite all those good things, yes, the reports are true, I do still remain far from sainthood - because I also often feel unsatisfied, ambitious, melancholy, confused, sarcastic, overwhelmed, worn down. It's just that when the other bits are in place, the fine things, I can ride out the hard times with more of my usual lightheartedness intact. I navigate another life passage and find myself thinking, So this is what it's like to get older - this strange accumulation of experiences and emotions that only seem to lengthen and deepen. The best news: I feel so much younger now than I did when I was twenty. Back then I was a million years old, so unhappy and jaded and striving, so uncomfortable. That time taught me to beware of taking myself too seriously. Remember Ogden Nash: "You're only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely." You can, but you don't have to!

On the book front, I'm browsing this morning in Novels and Novelists: A Guide to the World of Fiction (St. Martin's Press 1980), edited by Martin Seymour-Smith. It's one of those books I was going to put into stock the last time I thinned out my reference books, and I made the fatal error of starting to read it. Lost! The photographs alone make it worth keeping. Those, and the section at the very end of the book called "The Novel and The Book Trade." Also, the large section of entries on individual authors is very entertaining. For example, the entry about Ian McEwan (p.179) begins this way:

"British short story writer and novelist, much acclaimed by critics, whose enthusiasm is tempered only by their bewilderment about his intentions."

Heh. There's more great stuff early on in the book, in the section "The Novelist at Work." Each entry describes an author's writing routine, output, place of work, methods, and sources, with photographs of the authors in their workspaces or book rooms, with typewriters and tablets of paper and pens and pencils on tables and desks. Oh yeah, definitely keeping this book for a while longer. Signing off for now. Shop's getting busy.

Sarah, you sound like a woman full of joy and contentment, not piety. Your voice is just what we all need in this day and age! Carry on!
Thank goodness... Still working on the contentment part of things, though. Restlessness and striving seem to remain a big part of my modus operandi. Om.
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