Creativity for Life by Eric Maisel

Creativity for Life by Eric Maisel

Author:Eric Maisel
Language: eng
Format: mobi
ISBN: 9781577317234
Publisher: New World Library
Published: 2014-12-11T17:44:02+00:00

TWO WRITERS’ PATHS

Let’s examine the differing paths of two hypothetical short story writers. The first doesn’t secure a career for himself. The second does, although not the one he would have predicted. Let’s take it for granted that both writers are talented and creative. Talent and creativity are not the issue. The issue is the metaphysical one of the interrelationship among product, personality, and marketplace.

Joseph K.

As a young man our first writer, Joseph K., decides that he needs to write short stories. He loves the stories of Yevgeny Zamyatin, James Joyce, Jorge Luis Borges, Grace Paley, Eudora Welty, and Franz Kafka, loves the compression and precision of the form, doesn’t much revere poetry or the novel, and isn’t interested in literary criticism or nonfiction writing. He calls himself a short story writer and determines to spend his life writing. From a business point of view, the path he has chosen is an unfortunate one. How much can a short story writer expect to earn? How much do even the highest-paid short story writers earn? But these are not questions Joseph K. puts to himself.

His own stories, as he begins to write them, bear a family resemblance to those of Kafka. We may guess that he is not a people-pleasing sort of person. We would not expect him to have a calculating way about him with respect to the marketplace. We would not expect him to agree with Truman Capote, who said, “I never write — indeed, am physically incapable of writing — anything I don’t think I will be paid for.” We would not expect him to agree with Samuel Johnson, who said, “Sir, no man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”

Rather, we expect him to be a wounded, depressed, and lonely fellow with an excellent imagination and a fine way with words, who, like Kafka himself, is more than a little ambivalent about interacting in the marketplace. Our writer likely neither knows nor cares whether this is a good or a bad time to be writing Kafkaesque short stories. He is writing the stories that flow out of his imagination and soul, without calculation. His dreams of fame, recognition, and respect, which he does harbor, do not influence in the smallest measure what he writes or how he writes it.

Throughout college and afterward, Joseph K. spends a lot of time at his desk, in coffeehouses reading and writing, and on his sofa thinking. He works at odd jobs, goes to the movies, has a friendship or two, is shy with and estranged from women, has a stormy relationship with his overbearing father and polite mother, sleeps a good bit, is fonder of marijuana than of other drugs, writes letters, and continues to polish his stories.

When his car breaks down for the final time and his teeth hurt so much that he really must find a dentist, he sets about looking for a steady job. But because he considers himself no better at the game of academia than



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