does it add up?
A writer friend of mine has said that he came fairly late to writing, in his mid-thirties. He said that the wait has given him years more life experience to draw on in his fiction. He suspects he wouldn’t have had the knowledge or maturity to be good at writing in his twenties.
I think the case is similar with me, though I suspect I barely have the knowledge or maturity to be good at writing despite considerably more years into life than my friend.
I’m consumed by my Fathers and Sons stories, and I don’t mind. They are pretty much all I think about, and I seem to be able to write the first draft of a new one each week. Just this week, I realized I needed a story to fill a gap in the narrative, and a story presented itself to me readily. I’m collecting my thoughts on it, but I expect I’ll begin writing it by the end of the week.
But what are these stories? Are they any good? Are they worth all of the effort and time and frenzy I’m putting into them? I don’t know. I don’t need to know, I suppose. But sometimes I worry that they have no more depth or heft than a pop song. I was driving to my little cabin in the woods a weekend or so ago, and the radio no longer received the Kansas City NPR station, so I surfed the band and landed on some classic rock station that had a strong enough signal. Heart’s “Crazy on You” came on, and the memories of my St. Louis youth flooded in. (Driving to Illinois to get beer, back in the days when you only had to be nineteen to buy it there, every night of the week at my friend’s parents’ basement, drinking beer, playing pool, and arguing over music and other such infinitely important things.) And as the lyrics pounded through the speakers in my little truck, I recognized so much of them in my story “The Lonely Road.” Am I really that much influenced by pop culture? Where is the Moby Dick influence? The Faulkner influence?
But what if my stories really do have no more than the depth and heft of a pop song? People love pop songs. They answer a need, and if my stories could be so loved, I would be gratified. (And wealthy?)
Well, regardless, I have to write the stories I have, whatever their heritage and prospect. But I do wonder where the maturity and experience are? I seem to have missed them. Let me know if you find them, okay?