Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer Fades

Summer is fading. I wish I knew what to do to slow down experience and to hold onto the moment. Why is it that so much of life is spent looking backward.

With class done I am writing again, finishing this novel and working on a short story for an anthology. As I write and age, and listen to the sound of the night sliding against the side of the house, I worry about when I will lose my self-expression, or rather my self-perceived talent.

I have read many writers in their twilight. Some fade hard. Bradbury, who I love dearly, in his most recent works shows his age. His magic is sporadic. It's still there, but it sputters now and his ability to infuse each tale with it is hit and miss. Vonnegut struggled with age, didn't he? His work became manic and disjointed, still mistakably Vonnegut, but after all, "Timequake" was hardly "Slaughterhouse Five" or "Cat's Cradle". Steinbeck's greatest work was in the thirties and forties. He was magnificent in the fifties, but "The Winter of Discontent" and "Travels With Charlie" were hardly "Of Mice and Men" or "Grapes of Wrath".

Some writers never seem to lose a beat.

Some writers age and lose focus, their voice fades and falls into a sorry well.

10 comments:

L.A. Mitchell said...

I'm so happy to hear you're writing again.

Maybe we shouldn't look at it as "fading" but transition. We should all be so lucky as to reach the Mount Fuji of literary success, but how sobering to realize your best work is behind you.

Charles Gramlich said...

I worry about the same thing. And sometimes I feel it working in me.

CharlieHaviland said...

Touche, Stewart.

Youth inspires hunger and has driven spectacular creativity--Keats, Bob Dylan. I get ascared of losing my longing. But there's Updike and McCourt and Georgia O'Keefe to live up to. Wilde was right; youth is wasted on the young..that's why Elway and Jordan became better when they lost a step. They were smarter, even less hungry. Let's stay hungry.

Steve Buchheit said...

It's only with our modern sensibilities that we feel we should face into the future. The greeks felt we backed into the future with our vision firm on the past.

Rail, rail against the dying of the light.

Joe Ponepinto said...

Well said. I sometimes worry that I'll lose my writing edge, and I've barely begun working in the literary field. But many of the writers I admire are much older than I am. I've had the privilege of studying with David Wagoner, who's now 80 and whose poems and plays are more popular than ever — he seems to have an acceptance or two every week.

Stewart Sternberg said...

LA
It's 11:30 pm now, I figure I'll be in another black mood by three am. A good argument for not staying up past the witches midnight, or for posting during that period.

Transition, eh? I don't know if that's comforting.

CHARLES
Jon Zech said to me that old age doesn't come gradually, instead it sneaks up and slaps you on the back of the head.

CHARLIE
I'm always hungry, but my being overweight doesn't guarantee me being creative.

STEVE
That is a great quote. It makes me wonder if that's where T.H. White got his image of Merlin from. Merlin, as you know, aged backward, and was the wisest of the wise.

JOE
It's good to see someone else riddled by insecurities. Misery loves company.

Jon said...

Write now, whatever age you are, for God's sake write now whileyou can.
Age and illness are cruel...vampires you called them Stew. But as I said, they are nothing nearly that subtle.
They walk up to you on the street, all incognito, and as they pass they slap you in the head with a bowling ball. Just that quick and just that devastating. Whang, your memory's shot...whang, you can't put more than three words together, or, if you can, you don't have the energy to type. Yeah, really.

sternberg said...

looking forward to reading more. i must admit I found your blog by mindlessly ego-searching "sternberg is in the house."

Keep up the good blogging, Sterny!

Akasha Savage said...

My worse fear is that Stephen King's writing will go to pot. He doesn't write as much as he once did, but even so he still knows how to spin a good yarn.

My other biggest fear is a will die before I can read all the books I want to read!

Christina said...

I was excited about the longer, warmer days of summer, but now that it is fading, I'm starting to feel sad. It's actually getting cold at night, almost too cold to go without a coat.

Congrats on finishing your novel. I added the last chapter to mine, but I have to do all the editing now.