I didn’t post anything last week and some of you thought the Saturday Morning Club Type Thing was broken. One person asked if I was dead. Nope - neither of those things.
I have almost not posted anything this week either but figured I would at least turn up at the keyboard today so that something will happen tomorrow morning. Let’s see where it takes me:
I’ve been reading the collected letters of Sylvia Plath this week and have become enthralled over how often she would write to her mother, friends and various others in a way that is not unlike blogging. If blogging had been around, Sylvia Plath would have blogged for sure. The letters are nothing but a giant emptying of her head with very little editing and it’s brilliant.
I’ve always like Ted Hughes - which is I came to be reading about Plath - The Iron Man (or The Iron Giant if you happen to have come late to the party) is one of my all time favourites (and is the reason I wrote The Eternity Ring which will appear in its entirety in the hardback edition of Scenes From The Coffee House which will be along anytime now).
What I didn’t know until I started reading these letters by Plath was that Hughes had also written a book called The Iron Woman in 1993 as some kind of sequel to The Iron Man. I went out to find a copy and after digging around in the dirt found this cover was available for it:
…and while it’s pretty neat and fits with the similar cover of The Iron Man, this other version strikes hard at the heart of what the book is really about:
If there was ever book that needed a renaissance in today’s world, it’s this.
But more than anything, it’s a crying shame how little has changed in 25 years - and when I say ‘little’, I probably mean ‘nothing’.
Great book though. The world should not forget Ted Hughes… not that it has, but when people like me rattle on about American poets more than those closer to home, its easy to see how that might happen.
Is that all I got? Hmm. Maybe. There’s something else that’s gotten under my skin this week. I read this article that challenged my perception of myself as a writer. Amongst all of it was this:
“There is much to be said for our responsibility as creators and consumers of that constant dynamic interaction we call culture — which side of the fault line between catering and creating are we to stand on? The commercial enterprise is conditioning us to believe that the road to success is paved with catering to existing demands — give the people cat GIFs, the narrative goes, because cat GIFs are what the people want. But E.B. White, one of our last great idealists, was eternally right when he asserted half a century ago that the role of the writer is “to lift people up, not lower them down” — a role each of us is called to with increasing urgency, whatever cog we may be in the machinery of society. Supply creates its own demand. Only by consistently supplying it can we hope to increase the demand for the substantive over the superficial — in our individual lives and in the collective dream called culture.”
I read that and big-ass alarm bells went off in my head.
How could I have been so dumb as to not think of this myself? My job as a writer really is to lift people up. Not that I ever purposely lowered them down but if I think I may have been guilty of it, then maybe I was. That E.B. White dude, he banged the nail right on the head with this:
“Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.”
Otherwise, what the hell is the point in sitting down with your pencil and your brain free-falling through your soul (which is on fire) in front of a sheet of paper?
If I haven’t got that going on, I might as well send cat GIFs out into the world… but no… I’m a dog person.
I want to shape life not kick it to death.