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Friday, May 18, 2012

The Wrestler, re: John Irving, 12 May 2012 Time

I read with a great interest the article in the May 12, 2012 issue of Time magazine entitled "The Wrestler" concerning the writer John Irving. No doubt a successful and highly acclaimed author, Irving is now 70 years old, five years older than me. He is dealing with his declining powers as a writer as he gets older. Apparently, he feels that being in top physical condition will help him to retain his powers as a writer and perhaps increase his longevity. He has a pretty rigorous workout schedule. I for one hope it does help him to live and write for many more years.

I'm facing the same issue of declining mental stamina. I'm in the opposite situation in that I have not achieved success as a writer. I'm still attempting to get my work out there. I have no illusions of being a famous or highly successful author at this point. I'm not even sure it matters any longer. I just want to finish what I've started and maybe a little extra.

In an earlier post on this blog I believe I mentioned that I want to write shorter works now. I don't want to spend years and years working on one book any longer. I'd like my novels to be no longer than around 85,000 words, and less would be okay. In the article, Irving said, "I am writing shorter and shorter novels...My grasp of fictional detail and chronological story is worsening, so I must work with what I have to make sure I'm fully cognizant of what I'm creating." That goes for me as well.

It shows, though, to what degree we value and love our creativity. Perhaps we fear losing it and will do whatever is necessary to keep it. When art is what you're about, you want to do it until the day you die.

13 comments:

Tanya Reimer said...

Well said.

Kamille Elahi said...

A lovely post!

You're much more positive than I.

I've been thinking the same thing recently. With health problems, both physical and mental, I don't have much hope for the future. So i'm trying to finish my novel now instead of leave it 20 years when I'm bed-ridden.

I'm sorry about what you're going through.

Clarissa Draper said...

Losing my creativity is one of my worst fears. It happens to everyone, some earlier than others because of illness. I know that though I'm young I'm already fighting with my memory. I think your idea to write shorts is best, especially because your shorts are amazing.

Talli Roland said...

Very well said indeed. It's a scary thought to think of losing the ability to do what we love.

Stephen Tremp said...

I agree. Writing is my art and I will do it for as long as I can. Hopefully it will keep me young when I am old.

Arlee Bird said...

This is a tough post. I try not to think of these things and yet I can't deny these issues. And I'm not even old like you, me being only a young 61 years old (snicker heh-heh!) I hope to maintain my clarity and get a few finished things under my belt before I pass from this world. Shorter books sound like a good idea.


Lee
An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

The Golden Eagle said...

I agree--well said!

Charmaine Clancy said...

This is so true, my mother in law is in her late eighties and has lost her sight. It's very hard to deal with because she was such an artistic person always involved in crafts like weaving, tapestries, quilts etc. Since losing her sight he has declined in many other health issues, and most days will just stay in one chair and not move, everyone tries but I really think art in any form is part of our life and allows us to feel we contribute something to our world.

On a more positive note, your plan is probably good, in Australia publishers are seeking shorter novels because they're cheaper to produce in this unstable economical environment.

Lydia Kang said...

I worry about that too. Thank goodness there are outlets in our writing such as short stories and novellas! That I can keep up with, I hope. :)

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Richard,
I'd love to be writing til the day I die, but I'm also hoping that I won't go into mental decline. It's depressing just thinking about it, in that I'm not even fifty yet and I can't remember much of anything. :(

Emily R. King said...

Beautiful post, Richard. I am not 65, far from it, but I feel the same way about my love of creativity. I hold on to it despite the opposition to let it go. Thanks for sharing this. It's a reminder of why I write. :)

DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said...

Great post Richard, very thoughtful. Well, you want to write shorter works, well I major in flash fiction so I only have to write under 1,000 words at a time, sometimes less. I find it keeps me sharp. Exercise, especially running I find, makes you feel so good and must help the old brain keep zapping.

Denise

Juliana L. Brandt said...

That's a very interesting quote from Irving, about having to work with, and be willing to change, how he writes. This was a very honest and interesting post, Richard.