Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sorry, Edna, but Charles has won...

It's always very difficult to follow up a Gaiman book. What to read next?

I have in my stack of library books Savage Beauty, a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose poetry I haven't read in a million years but remember liking. I also have Breakfast at Tiffany's, a collection of Truman Capote stories. I keep picking them up, one after the other, and although both look very good, neither is calling to me (although isn't that a pretty photo?).

Instead, I will start in on my new project of reading all the Charles de Lint novels that the Oakland library system has. I am starting with Memory and Dream, which I have a sneaking suspicion that I've already read, but which I'm going to read regardless. It's about an artist whose illustrations have a life of their own, a story which is calling to me as I try to bring my owls (and who knows what else next!) to life.

I've been having this thought lately, while pondering the big question of what I really want to do with my life. I read an article recently about Rachel Maddow. Her partner has been trying to decide whether to quit her job and become a full-time artist. She said something like, "It's not about what is 'the right decision' -- it's about the fable you want to write about your own life." This has been sticking with me. The fable I want to write about my own life. What a nice perspective.

So that got me thinking about my dad, who, at age 62-ish, is pursuing another world record in his age group, in pole-vaulting (through Masters Track and Field competitions). (He has had a few world records already) This is my dad's greatest joy -- vaulting. He says it's the closest thing you can get to flying, and he loves it so much. He's a good example of what you can do when you really devote yourself to something, no matter what the odds, no matter what the naysayers, no matter about anything except that you love it.

(here's Dad two years ago, unfortunately snapping a pole)

To me, drawing something, when it turns out a certain way, when it has life, is the closest thing to real magic that I know. It's the thing that takes my breath away, the thing of which I am most jealous, neurotic, envious, admiring, covetous, proud, humble... if I could draw the things I have in my head -- what magic that would be! Sometimes I get a glimpse when something turns out right -- and it's that edge of it being almost real, almost magic, that gets me excited. I don't know what I'm capable of -- could be nothing, could be something good. The perfect example of 'you don't know until you try.'

So I'm thinking about it. About magic. About fables, and bringing things to life.
Tonight has been spent curled up in front of the fire, doing nothing productive -- flipping through catalogs, reading Apartment Therapy, eating nachos, petting the cat. I feel a thousand times better than I did all day. And now, time for early bed.


Eva said...

Your dad sounds really cool! And I like the fable perspective too; I've been going through lots of self-examination recently, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to make a radical 'career change' (really, grad school change).

Stefanie said...

What an awesome photo of your Dad and what an inspiring example he is. I think you have the talent and the desire for your art, you just need to work on the confidence. Confidence is always the hardest part. Have a little faith in yourself and see what happens. And if your pole snaps, just get back up and try again :)

Bibliomama said...

Cool post. Cool Dad. Writing the fable of your own life is a lovely idea -- although I'm a bit nervous that, the way I write, the fable of my life will always turn out screwy, surreal, speckled with too many overblown adjectives and funny only when it's not trying to be. Is there any way to get a good editor for the fable of your life? :)

Bibliomama said...

Cool post. Cool Dad. Writing the fable of your life is a lovely idea, although the way I write I'm afraid the fable of my life is destined to be screwy, surreal, speckled with overblown adjectives and funny only when it's not meant to be. Is there some way to get a good editor for the fable of your life? :)

Miss D. said...

Eva- ooh, I wonder what you are going to change to? Change is good. Unless it's bad. That's a universal rule you can count on. :)

Stefanie: thanks -- my dad is pretty amazing (so is my mom). And thanks for hte little confidence boost. I'm working on it.

bibliomama: I wish there were a good life-editor! I need one of those too.

Susan said...

It sounds like you are wanting to make your life be meaningful, which involves having it include what we love. At least, that's what I've found so far. Writing is hard work though like you, when it goes well, there is nothing like it in the world, and I am not here, I am away somewhere in the writing, and it is pure magic and wonder. I've been reviewing my life too, trying to find where i can make more time to write, because it seems to get crowded out by everything else.

Your post is really thoughtful and your Dad is inspiring! He makes me determined that I will find time to write,that for me, for the pure pleasure of creating, there is nothing like it in the world. And that makes it worth my time.

So thank you, your post is so encouraging to me, too!

Fables...yikes, I'd be hardpressed to write a fable about my life,though if I approach it like a fairy tale, that might be fun..... :-D

cipriano said...

I encourage you to read the Edna bio... my reading partner [a real for-real Edna-devotee] raved about it.
I can only speak for Edna's poetry, and say that I very much love her work.
Your post is so interesting to me.
Charles de Lint lives right here, in my hometown.
Your dad is a living hero. Someone to be proud if.

Michelle Shopped said...

once you start savage beauty you won't be able to stop -- you will dream edna...the book was so powerful for me -- i felt like i was channeling her -- the coolest...