Persist, Another Year
Another year, another set of goals that are no different than the year before. I’m sure it was this time last year I put down my list of things that I wanted to write and accomplish with this website. Did I accomplish any of those? Hardly? I’d blame the pandemic but only in folly. COVID had nothing to do with it. I simply fall into traps of my own making. Once there, impaled on the metaphorical pikes, I look up to the stars and gaze. I could try and move. I could try and escape the pointy things stuck in my guts. Instead, I dream about what I’d do once I’m out, healed and back on that road. Getting out is the issue. I’m naïve like that. But not stupid.
Though stupid enough to try and change this pattern.
Maybe, it will be different. That’s the hope. That’s the plan. But I can line the canary cage with plans. I can very well line a few pet beds with those. That’s not self-deprecation. It is reality. Such as it is.
I picked up a book last week that I did not realize I needed till I flipped through its pages: Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia Butler (Hello, Seven Stories Press!). I’ve been a fan of Butler’s for some time now, enough so that she’s in my pantheon of inspiration. Purchasing the book should be of no surprise and at its heart, Bloodchild and Other Stories is a collection of short stories, some I’ve read, others on my infinitely long “To Read” list. The key here, the ever-important key, are the two essays included within. “Positive Obsession” details her journey as a writer and fills in the details on what I only knew as apocrypha about her. “Furor Scribendi” on the other hand proves to be the more important essay, at least in this moment. Like any other author, Butler possessed her own rules of writing. I’ve seen enough of these sets and taught enough of these commandments to know that even writers who don’t have rules have rules, subconsciously sitting there as the tenets to their realms. Butler’s are simple, distilled into a beautiful shame because they’re so easy to follow and so damned hard to execute. Like anyone else, she had “write” and “read.” Her final one though, even in its simplicity and its appearance on many other lists, stuck with me.
Effectively, a rule I’m bad at following. “Persist” isn’t anything revelatory mind you. If anything, this is a matter of being reflective on this past year and optimistic for what one can do in the coming year. So, why does Butler’s final rule, her version I’ve seen so many others use, stick the landing for me. Perhaps it comes in the afterward she wrote for this essay in which she says we are all capable of achieving more than what we believe we can. That is not a direct quote, mind you. I don’t want to venture into the abyssal waters of fair use and copyright. I do suggest, you find yourself a copy of the collection or essay for yourself. Good work is good work and should be presented as such.
Again, what she says isn’t anything new. Why are those specific words, in that specific order by this specific author so catching of my imagination? There is plenty of aspiration in that quote, not just for writing, but in everything. Maybe it’s the cultural crossroads the country is in. Maybe I’m at a point in my life where amidst all the change I’m dealing with (career, health, you name it) these words are a guidepost.
Maybe I just need to get my crap together.
Again. Reflective, not revelatory.
If you have been with me so far on this writing journey, I sincerely thank you. Every kind word, every ounce of feedback and support, every moment of validation for what I’m trying to accomplish is appreciated and cherished. If you are just now joining, I don’t know what I can promise. There will be works, worthy of despair for the mighty or not.
And some sad cats I banana hats.