Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Patience, Tenacity and the Mental Seedling
I have come to the conclusion that it is a matter of trust. Of self-trust. The novel, like a seedling, germinates within the rich mental earth; establishing itself with delicate root-tendrils that burrow through the neural cortex with ethereal intricacy. Then it is purely a matter of nourishment, sun and water for seedlings...and patience and tenacity for writing. Often one talks of the literary muse and the inspiration that accompanies it like some kind of celestial grace that endows the writer with elevated abilities, elegant prose delivered with enviable ease. Alas, that muse is a stranger to me - much as I would give to make her acquaintance. (I will adhere to the Greek tradition and proclaim her a she of three).
So regardless of whether the writer has twenty minutes snatched from the obligations of routine and necessity, or whether they are so fortunate as to have a half-day set aside for the creative endeavor, or (blissful thought!) the leisure of a writing day all to one's self (for Virginia it was a room, but today, perhaps it is time) the key, I believe, is simple perseverance. For the humble mortals of us, the muse is a capricious companion that cannot, ultimately, be relied upon. She might flit through our minds with gossamer rapidity, briefly illuminating a suggestion that, like the seedling, might become something fine. But she will not condescend to write the novel. I cannot imagine her undertaking a labor of sweat (or would she delicately perspire?) and regardless of how talented and prolific one might be, certainly, the work of a novel does, at times, require a Herculean effort from us all?
Each novel is a product of our allotted time; the duration of which depends upon numerous extraneous obligations that define our lives - excepted are those oh-so fortunate few that make their living at this extraordinary endeavor. The time constraint sits heavily upon me. I have, by some marvelous achievement, obtained a quiet hour in which to work - so, fingertips poised, cursor blinking, the seedling waits in the dark. Waits for some dim illumination that pale green leaves might uncurl themselves and swelling buds might burst into bloom. So even if, within that narrow band of snatched-time, I formulate a single phrase that possesses something within it - something alive - then that is a progress that I am delighted with. In an era of instant-gratification and headlong-onward rush, the writer, I believe, must practice a patience with production and a tenacity with the craft, however slow-moving that process might be. The novel is there waiting, as surely as the well-watered seed will grow into a tree - it is just a matter of time, trust and tenacity.