Monday, November 17, 2008

The Biggest Fight I Ever Had

Well actually I'm still having it--this fight between the novel and me. All this morning on the bus listening to songs that filled the space around my head, I was fighting. Fighting with the idea of putting my fingers on the keyboard to type. This story inside me is fighting to get out, but I continue to think/say/feel--I can't let 'you' out. Like a spirit child that travels from generation to generation trying to be born, this novel is trying to get out of me, but I won't let it.

Maybe it's fear of failing or succeeding or not getting past the first page. Maybe it's the idea of breaking the lazy pattern my life has grown accustomed to. Maybe it's something I haven't thought of yet.

Whatever it is I know the story inside of me won't rest until it's out (damn you spirit of storytelling--you're like a hog weighing on my back, but I love you--you're like a needle in a haystack I can't find, but I need you--you're like a cute man with a cocked-eye, but I can't stop looking at you--you're like everything in this world that I need, love, want but I misuse you so.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Like The Part About Finding YOur Own Way

Letters to a Young Writer
In our Letters to a Young Writer series, Narrative’s featured authors respond to comments and questions from younger authors reflecting on the nature of the writer’s work. We inaugurate this series with a correspondence between Dennis O’Reilly and T. Corghessan Boyle:

Dear T. C. Boyle,
No one can accuse you of shying away from the most onerous issues of our time. Perhaps that’s why I’m reluctant to take Ty Tierwater at his word when he says, “I’m not preaching. I’m not going to preach. It’s too late for that.”

In a culture in which the presentation of all opinions has all but eliminated rational discourse, would you encourage young writers concerned with the problems our society faces to lay it all on the line, as you have done? Or is it too late for that?
Thank you for your time—and your work.

Best regards,
Dennis Thomas O’Reilly

Dear Dennis:

I wouldn’t want people to throw in the towel after reading A Friend of the Earth. Certainly Friend is not a book of advocacy (in fact, when I came back from that particular book tour to access my website, I was amazed to find that people there were debating whether or not I was an environmentalist), because advocacy and fiction do not comfortably coexist, though my sympathies should be clear to anyone who has read even a handful of my stories or novels. Not a single environmentalist holds out much hope for the future of our species or of the myriad other endangered species out there, given our overpopulation and destruction of the environment, the zero-sum game of capitalism that posits infinite product and infinite consumers, and our unsustainable lifestyle. The crash is coming. You’d have to be blind not to see that.

So what do we do? I am socially engaged, unlike many of my contemporaries, and I take on a whole variety of issues, yes, but increasingly I have found myself coming back to the central one of the environment, and, by extension, the meaning of our lives in the face of an indifferent universe. How and why do we master the other species? How long will our tenure be? Why have we evolved the power to contemplate our own future? Why do we exist? Why does anything exist? I write fiction in order to think deeply and to assuage my fear and my pessimism through the act of creating art. This is redemptive. And while I have no advice for any artist, young or old, other than to find his or her own way, I will say that each of us must create art in order to address the central questions of human existence—for our own sanity, and, we hope, for the sanity of our readers. (I Like this part).

Buena suerte,
T. C. Boyle

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We're Living This Moment

All I have to say is God is moving this nation towards a change that I can believe in. It's true that America can change and it is. With all this joy and fair tidings, I know that this America we're moving towards won't appear over night--it will take some and I'm willing to wait and work and make the sacrifices necessary. It brings me exceeding happiness to know that my five year-old niece will know a different America than myself, as I will know a different one than my mother.

It's a good day to be black, white, asian, hispanic, native--united in America. In 77 days I will know how it feels to be represented in the highest office in this country. In 77 days my nine year-old twins cousins will have living proof that nothing is impossible--not even becoming president of the United States. We made history.