May 2nd 2013
Last week I was writing about how whenever a writer puts his ideas down on paper, he is hoping for an audience. But with an audience comes voices of dissent, and authors are not famous for taking criticism well. In fact, after Steinbeck came under fire from all quarters in his native country for winning the Nobel Prize for literature, he barely ever wrote another word. Touchy, touchy, but, honestly, it goes with the territory. Show me an author with thick skin, and I'll show you someone who can't get into the skin of his/her characters. To be a writer, you have to be vulnerable, and the hurtful things people say about your writing are not going to sit well, especially about four o'clock in the morning when you're giving yourself pep talks about being above criticism and trying to focus instead on the big picture. It's just that the big picture at four o'clock in the morning is just about impossible to get at. In that state of semi-awareness, the mind is only interested in raking through the nitty gritty. And not just once - it goes over and over the same ground, looking for thorns to stick in your feet. Oh, the mind is an unconscionable beast. The dark circles under my eyes are testament to that fact.
Two things happened this week. The first was good, in that I talked to author Anthony Peake who has written extensively about a new paradigm for understanding time. Basically I am into new paradigms for everything, because we have out-used the old ones and they hang around screaming and shouting about how they are illused. Scientists scream and shout about Anthony Peake because he has the audacity to talk about things such as Quantum Physics, when no university gave him the authority to do so. Scientists went into fits of rage when Copernicus dared to suggest that the old world paradigm wasn't right. Scientists committed suicide (I joke not) when Einstein's Theory of Relativity was accepted. Paradigms are paradigms because they are dug in concrete twenty feet down and sixty feet up, and the walls are seven feet thick. Don't come knocking on that door. In fact, there is no door. You just have to take dynamite to it. The British Empire is a point in case. But I am a Scot, and don't get me started on that. That is 4am in the morning stuff.
Anyway, back to Anthony Peake. He is excited about my book called "The Veil of Time," because it, too, is suggesting an alternative way of looking at time. He has me up on his Facebook wall, which I can't see because I don't know the first thing about Facebook. Some paradigms change too quickly for me, and I am still trying to catch up with that one.
The second thing that happened to me this week, and the reason I am harping on about critics, is that I failed to.....more about that later. Here are some other failures:
I have a picture of Emily Bronte on my wall, but look what a critic wrote about Wuthering Heights when it came out. He said, "Here all the faults of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte) are magnified a thousand fold, and the only consolation which we have in reflecting upon it is it will never be generally read."
Eat your heart out James Lorimer of the North British Review. Wuthering Heights has never stopped being read. Still, I feel your pain, Emily. I have lived the hours of your insomnia.
John Burroughs of Century Magazine had this to say upon the publication of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities:
"I forced myself through A Tale of Two Cities. It was a sheer dead pull from start to finish. It all seemed so insincere, such a transparent make-believe, a mere piece of acting."
I bet that review had Dickens up at 4 am in the morning, and all because he couldn't see the big picture. The big picture about The Tale of Two Cities is that it is the best selling book of all time. So, stick that in your nineteenth century pipe, John Burroughs, and smoke it.
I have an entire book of these kinds of rotten reviews. I should keep it by my bedside. It should give me courage to reveal the other thing that happened to me this week, but it doesn't. No, I'm not going to tell. It still hurts too much. I will get over it and so will history, but for now don't touch me. I am a writer and I am nursing a wound.