bloom anyway

Here is an inspiring piece I found for those of us who started late, for those of us wondering how J.K. Rowling or Stephen King does it, for those of us scrambling and crawling back to our favourite book in the middle of the night when we can’t sleep obsessing and begging for our characters to tell us their secrets, for those of us late bloomers who weren’t child prodigies in churning out beautiful moving words on a page: late is merely an adjective, bloom anyway.

The power of someone believing in you is precious. Hold them close. They believe in your story; they believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself.

This is the final lesson of the late bloomer: his or her success is highly contingent on the efforts of others. In biographies of Cézanne, Louis-Auguste invariably comes across as a kind of grumpy philistine, who didn’t appreciate his son’s genius. But Louis-Auguste didn’t have to support Cézanne all those years. He would have been within his rights to make his son get a real job, just as Sharie might well have said no to her husband’s repeated trips to the chaos of Haiti. She could have argued that she had some right to the life style of her profession and status—that she deserved to drive a BMW, which is what power couples in North Dallas drive, instead of a Honda Accord, which is what she settled for.

But she believed in her husband’s art, or perhaps, more simply, she believed in her husband, the same way Zola and Pissarro and Vollard and—in his own, querulous way—Louis-Auguste must have believed in Cézanne. Late bloomers’ stories are invariably love stories, and this may be why we have such difficulty with them. We’d like to think that mundane matters like loyalty, steadfastness, and the willingness to keep writing checks to support what looks like failure have nothing to do with something as rarefied as genius. But sometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it’s just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table.

“Sharie never once brought up money, not once—never,” Fountain said. She was sitting next to him, and he looked at her in a way that made it plain that he understood how much of the credit for “Brief Encounters” belonged to his wife. His eyes welled up with tears. “I never felt any pressure from her,” he said. “Not even covert, not even implied.”

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xcrpt

she held on to his hand. it was the first time someone held her. lovingly so. was this how it feels like to be touched? it was a strange feeling: being wanted, someone wanting to be close, someone this close. she became aware, all of a sudden, of the last three years he’d been at a distance, and wondered about that space. the space we put between ourselves and others. slowly and with every step up the stairs, one by one his fingers laced and intertwined hers. the space in between them becoming smaller and smaller. a breath with every inch of space they were closing in. he squeezed her hand. a reassuring, comforting, gentle force of skin on skin. human on human. breath on breath. he wanted to be close her, and she didn’t stop him. for the first time, maybe and only this time ever, she wanted someone who wanted her.

– an excerpt from the book i’m writing, a.m.

love with complications

Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene, I hardly paid it any mind. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that eighteen years later I would recall it in such detail. I didn’t give a damn about the scenery that day. I was thinking about myself. I was thinking about the beautiful girl walking next to me. I was thinking about the two of us together, and then about myself again. It was the age, that time of life when every sight, every feeling, every thought came back, like a boomerang, to me. And worse, I was in love. Love with complications. Scenery was the last thing on my mind.

– Haruki Murakami, N.W.

just a little braver

To create is to change, and to that extent making art is a heroic act, an act of character. Every day with every word, chiseled from the wall of silence within, you rise up and stagger on, hoping to become just a little braver, wiser, more loving. You change. Before the demeaning  blankness of the page, perched on the edge of the inscrutable future, you are the hero.

– David Corbett