Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How old are you-really?

Hi all. Here I am with my regular Sunday evening blog, right on time as usual. NOT! Sorry for the delay, but personal circumstances intervened.
Last week's topic seemed to strike a chord with a number of you. I really appreciated all the comments, which ranged from an affirmation of my own to some rather disparate views; all valid and succinct. Thank you all.
This week I'd picked a topic and Craig Buck's comment from last week affirmed it; the question of age. I'm going to put my own take on this right up front this time. My spiritual age (or, if you prefer, creative age) has nothing to do with the degree of degradation my physical body has endured. After saying that, let me hasten to say that I believe there are factors that do age one, creatively.
After ruining one perfectly good marriage, I jumped right into another, totally ignoring psychologists' advice. We're still together forty two years later. Not that there haven't been bumps along the way; there have. Some serious ones and some not so serious. Because I believe that the totality of my existence is what feeds my creative mind, I'm certain that the disparity in ages between my mate and myself accounts in some measure for my ability to still sound relevant after all the chronological years I've accumulated.
My wife is sixteen years younger than me. Yes, I was one of those dastardly college profs who married his student. It cost me a career and put my sweetheart at a distinct disadvantage for years, but out of it has come a romance that could well be a successful novel, and two bright beautiful daughters who continue to make us proud. Beyond that, I can still relate to younger people, though that is fading and I'm near the end of my creative value as a fiction writer. Well, maybe not, but the world is changing so fast it's hard to keep up any more.
So I'm a septogenarian with a creative drive that's late fifties and a spirit that knows no age limitation. When I was five, I looked up into the night sky at all the twinkling stars and thought, 'somewhere up there is my real father.' Don't get me wrong; I had wonderful parents that I loved and I knew I was their progeny, physically. But I had this 'knowing' inside that my inner being belonged somewhere beyond Earth's bounds; a heady thought for a five year old.
Do any of you recall having mature thoughts while you were still children? My guess is that you did, even if you don't remember it. Now I'd best get this posted before my aging body refuses to leave my comfy chair. So, how old are you?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Who is a professional writer?

In my college training to become a professional teacher, I was reminded by a professor that a true professional is something like a hired gun. Paid to bring understanding and edification to a group, a professional teacher, using his own skills, must teach what he's being paid to teach.
Using that standard, a professional writer would be paid to write what readers demand, would he not? Employing all the skills and devices at his command, the writer would write cozy mysteries if that was most in demand; or historical romance if that the hot button of the day.
Where then, does that leave the writer who knows what's in his head and his heart to write, regardless of whether it is popular or not? Assuming that writer uses equal skill and devices, would his work not be the equal of the other?
This is not rhetorical. I honestly do not know the answer. In fact, I was never able to blithely accept that professor's assertion at face value. When I was active in the field, I often found myself challenged by local citizens who wanted my band to play nothing but Sousa marches, or sports addicts who insisted my band play only pop tunes 'everybody' would appreciate. Where, I asked myself, did the musical education of my students enter that picture?
In much the same way, I find myself tempted now to fill a burgeoning market; one I've been assured will bring me more sales and spread my reputation as a fiction author. Therein lies the rub--that the reputation I want spread is that I have something significant to say to my reader. If I'm only a diversion, a few hours of distraction from the cares of the world, why should I care?
Chime in here. Tell me if you think I'm going wrong. I read and consider every comment that comes my way and I appreciate those of you who have shared your thoughts. I hope you'll continue to do so.
Pat Dale