I received a ton of feedback on line and off about “A Marriage Passed.” Each one was encouraging and lovely, and I very much appreciate the time and effort people took to comment-thank you.
One thing that struck me was that many called the piece “writing from the heart” and urged me to continue to do so. I think what that meant was the degree of emotional honesty came through as clearly as the content. And that was true. Yet, my posts have generally been “from the heart.” Okay, not the television one where I was having some fun. Or the “Harbingers of Spring,” in which I rued Boston’s weather (well, maybe). But my post about “Israeli Regime Change,” or “The Obama Conundrum,” and even the Dylan/Ochs conversation were reflections of deeply held beliefs-though written in differing styles and forms.
And while I appreciated last week’s comments and feedback, truth is, I started this site as a road back to a kind of writing, which is of my heart.
It began with the intent of shaking the rust off due to an eighteen year hiatus. I chose nonfiction posts because it was something I’d never done. I hoped the newness would both jack me out of silence and broaden my skills. So far it’s done both and, while I enjoy the freedom to pick different topics, love the response to my pieces, enjoy the arguments they occasionally provoke, I still miss the hell out of writing fiction.
I miss the freedom to play inside my imagination. I miss the people I create. I miss hearing the different voices inside my head and the unique personalities that eventually emerge.
I guess writing novels is my safe way of experimenting with multiple personality disorder.
I’m also hungry for the interpersonal interactions and relationships in which my people engage. I don’t miss plotting but that comes with the package and there’s simply no way to avoid it–especially since I intend a return to detective fiction.
(Excuse me while I momentarily extemporize. It was no accident that I took up the saxophone when I walked away from writing. I liken detective fiction to jazz for a number of reasons. For one, jazz is an indigenous American art form and I believe the same about hard-boiled. Just as jazz upends traditional songs, it’s rewarding to create variations on the hard-boiled historical structure which, while maintaining the form, also changes it. Most of all it’s a gift to follow in the footsteps of novelists like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Bart Spicer and Ross Thomas. (Someday I’ll share a more complete list of the “greats” in this space.)
I walked away from publishing after several censorship battles with a major house–and thought I was done forever. But this new age of communications has given me another shot. Right now I’m converting three out-of-print Matt Jacob books (along with the fourth I took with me when I walked) into eBooks, which I will control. That was my thinking when I started the whole project, but in the course of creating this space I’ve decided to bring Matt Jacob out of retirement. I’ll begin a new novel once the earlier ones are up and running. Frankly, the idea of playing with that eighteen-year gap tickles me. And while I don’t imagine my older voice will be the same, (hell I haven’t stayed the same for the past eighteen and certainly my voice hasn’t), I’ll try to write books that reflect the realness of life and relationships, much as I tried to do before.
So what does this have to do with writing from the heart? I suppose the connection is that I have to follow my heart in order to write from it.
At the same time I have no intention to give up these posts. I’ve discovered the pleasure of stretching my abilities and have thoroughly enjoyed the reactions to the different columns. And most importantly, there are cultural, social, political, artistic and personal issues that intrigue me and I intend to explore.
Although most of my posts won’t be about loved ones, they will be honest and often “written from the heart.”
I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. -Mahatma Gandhi