Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bathroom Monologue: Doubt in the Right Direction

I worry too much. One of the things I worry about is that I'm too post-modern. According to some critics, it's the only real literary field today. True, I am writing after Homer, Milton, Shelly, Steinbeck and Welty. But four out of those five authors were writing after Homer, too. Is it that all of us non-Homers are derivative, and I'm just more honest to have the king of my fictional country bear his name? Or am I, as I worry, ridiculously untalented and lack all creativity except the most fundamental level, the one that keeps me from sitting next to a pond and eating flies for the rest of my life? I doubt myself, because doubting is what a writer does. All good writers doubt themselves (except Homer, who we doubt existed), and most successful post-modern writers seem to bank on doubting others. This generation is very good at doubting, and naming names. It's bad enough that we have that intellectual grandmother and emotional widow Virginia Woolf hovering over our shoulders, telling us that there are no original plots, while her back-up singers of masturbatory critics sing about how it's "all been said before." I get it, I'm not the first person to see a hurricane or to appreciate Bach and Jimmy Eat World (okay, maybe the first to appreciate Jimmy Eat World), but I did experience a hurricane for the first time only recently, and there are people newer to living than me around here, so that means there is a healthy group of people who haven't experienced and appreciated various things yet (and by the popularity of sex in this culture, plenty more are coming). So I guess I worry about doubting because while all good writers doubt themselves, a lot of people who doubt themselves ought to, and worse, if I should escape doubt, I ought to worry if I'm no good and just annoying. I'd hate to wind up as another Woolf back-up singer.

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