Everyone makes new year’s resolutions at some point, and often they just lead to regret or quick abandonment. I personally think that conducting Lessons Learned on a year is a far more valuable practice than resolutions for the new one. Hopefully I’ll get to that soon for 2016.
I’ve thought a lot about writing the way I used to over the past few years, and frankly, amazing tool though it can be, the modern internet is a good reason NOT to write – so much anger, fear, and hatred, and the ability of all the negative of humanity to be amplified alongside the good. Who would want to go back to writing on that playing field, exposed for all to see? It’s a great excuse to stop trying, and in a way, I did that many years ago. I write all the time in private venues — why put out a public edition as well, just to expose one’s self to all the negativity out there, with no real gain? But ultimately, it’s an excuse not to write at all, and therein lies the problem.
During the holidays, one of our family tasks was trying to preserve some of my Dad’s writings. Unbeknown to most, he was a frustrated noir suspense and detective fiction writer, in the vein of Cornell Woolrich, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and others. He wrote many stories when I was a small child, and to my knowledge never got any of them published. But still, he kept at it, until moving from Chicago to be with the family on the East Coast. I think after that point he stopped, or at least he stopped trying to write things for publication.
I found this (actually several of these) in going through his writings, as we scanned them into PDF, so we’d no longer have to rely on the aging paper to retain the ideas . . .
It immediately reminded me of The X-Files “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man” — in which one of the most powerful and dangerous men in the world really only wants to be a writer, but is frustrated by his constant rejection by the pulps of his day. I draw no connections between my father’s back story and the villain from Mulder & Scully’s universe, but the irony is there — the disapproval and negativity of a small minority of uninformed shouldn’t make you stop trying — even if you are rejected and ridiculed again and again and again in a way that people would never to do you in person.
Ultimately, it didn’t work out so well in either case — my Dad stopped writing in the long run, and died younger than all would have liked with only a few, barely seen publications to his name, and the Cigarette Smoking Man briefly realizes his dream only briefly, to then see it dashed by re-interpretation of his material to boost sales in the modern market place (another painfully accurate analogy to the modern internet). But they both gave it a good college try. And so it seems like a resolution to try (at least for a little while) writing in a public (and “published”) medium again. We’ll see how it goes.