Wednesday, February 13, 2019

For art’s sake

What sacrifices have you made for your writing career that you're better for?

by Dietrich

I’ve never thought of anything to do with writing as a sacrifice. There’s no ritual or offering, nothing like that. Not in my real life anyway. It comes down to choice and time, and writing is what I choose to do over other things. In order to do it as well as I can, other things have to be set aside. 

For me, there’s nothing like sitting down with an idea for a story, and spinning it, disappearing in the world that I make up, giving myself over to it and finding my way into the rhythm of it, and then seeing where the story takes me. Mine is a casual style, but there was nothing casual about getting there. it took a lot of practice and experimenting to find my voice and a style that worked in the first place, but I loved every minute of it. And I still do.

“If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.” Charles Bukowski, Factotum

Signing for Vancouver Noir, with Sam Wiebe, Robin Spano & Kristi Charish
There was no guarantee starting out, or even now, that someone would or will publish what spills out of me. I’ve mentioned before that I started by writing short stories, and for me it was the right way to go. Writing them let me play with genres and styles so I could find what worked best for me. I don’t write as many nowadays — another choice — but, I still love the form, and I do have one included in Vancouver Noir, an anthology printed in 2017 by Akashic Books, and I’m tickled to be part of it, along with some awesome Canadian talent.

Nowadays, I complete a novel each year, more or less. And I’m fortunate to be at a point in life where I don’t have to juggle a day job or drive the kid to some after-school activity, and then get in whatever writing I can at the end of a bleary-eyed day. I’ve been there, and I was happy to write in the little time I had. As they say, “If you love what you’re doing, the rest will take care of itself.” 

I get up in the morning when I have plenty of energy, and I pick up the story from where I left off. And I’ve almost managed to wean myself from spending too much time on social media, and I spend less time watching TV and more time going for long walks. And sometimes I just like to just do nothing at all.

I guess if I could squeeze more hours into the day, I’d probably get my brushes and paint something abstract, or I’d grab my camera and go in search of some street scenes, or I’d dust off my guitar, or maybe I’d find something new to try. But, it’s all a choice, right?


Paul D. Marks said...

Love the Bukowski quote, Dieter. And it's good to see Criminal Minds alums Robin and Sam. And congratulations on getting a story in Vancouver Noir.

7 Criminal Minds said...

I love how you say that you 'find the rhythm' of a story. Your post beautifully captures the deep affinity you and many of us have for the written word.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Paul and Brenda.

Terry said...

Wonderful post, Dieter. Even the times when the story is difficult to get hold of are worth the struggle. Such a privilege to put the stories on the page.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Terry. You're right, it is a privilege.

Susan C Shea said...

We talk about getting into the zone and as Bukowski says with far more force than I can say, it is the reward. And it is the tradeoff. I salute you for not being caught up in the cyclone tunnel of social media. I need to escpe it's pull!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Susan. It's too easy to spend a lot of time on social media, and there are just so many other things I'd like to do.