Saturday, January 12, 2008

Me and Jimmy Stewart

I recently read an essay in The New Yorker (January 14, 2008) about Otto Preminger, written by David Denby. He discusses Preminger's movies, focusing, in this instance, on "Anatomy of a Murder", which I have probably seen on TV in the long ago dim past but don't remember. Anyway, Jimmy Stewart, ". . . in one of his wonderful melancholy 'late' performances . . ." plays a former county prosecutor, who, apparently, hangs around with his buddies, not doing a whole lot of lawyering. The line Denby writes that stood out for me is, "The movie is leisurely, detailed, realistic, intensely companionable; you get a sense of how people exist at the margins of a profession without losing their dignity." [emphasis mine.]

I immediately identified with this description. At the margins of the profession, is, in fact, where I exist in the writing world. (I suspect lots of us do.) Realizing this, I actually felt good. I have been angsting for some time about not being a "successful" writer, but in truth I am always more comfortable at the edges of things. (A much better position from which to observe the goings on, for example, and from which, if necessary, to escape.) I had thought that getting published would deliver me to the center of SUCCESS, but a.) that hasn't happened, and b.) I'm not a center kind of person. So the trick for me, now, is the dignity part of Denby's sentence. I feel I have sometimes lost dignity in my floundering and in my wailing about floundering, but now I sense there is another way to engage with the writing life I actually have. This is tricky ground for me--I'm always up for a good angsty sob--but it's better to proceed into a country of a small but burnished pride than to stay in the ruined landscape where I've been, right?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Easy Come, Easy Go

I had another unexpected separation from my computer. Much fixing and patching and realigning of said device went on, all done by people other than me. I can do nothing.

I did spend some of the time away de-stressing. (An unexpected consequence.) While an Internet connection brings pleasure, it also brings the pain that comes from reading how splendidly other writers are doing, while you are not. (Sorry. The grumbling is innate, I can't help it . . . ) It also ties your body to an inanimate object for hours at a time. The physical body needs to be free--at the least it needs to be taken out for regular walks--but I think we tend to forget that while staring into the electronic glow.

In honor of that, I'm going to go out for a walk right now. It is almost mid-day. Not the best time of day for me to walk (I prefer early or late) but it is the opportunity I have at this moment, so I will take it.