David Foster Wallace

a person writing into a notebookI’m going there—quoting a writer I admire enormously, who I can’t hope to replicate, who falls into the group of male, helplessly gifted, entitled by birth-status, educational opportunities, and that thing I seek—the early recognition and assumption of greatness in literature. The teenage boy who walks into the university hall knowing he is one of the good ones. Maybe great ones.

He could say without cringing, giggling or looking at the ground, I am a writer.

I am jealous. There. It’s probably already clear, but I missed that trip down early acknowledgment lane. This must now fall under whining. So, I dig Wallace, Franzen, Mary Karr (interesting that I feel the need to clarify her first name when she broke new ground, too), Atwood, Hemmingway and all those classic English writers, as well as Keri Hulme and Janet Frame (two of New Zealand’s finest—check them out; my first literary idols after Enid Blyton). All the time thinking, there’s no bloody way I could write like that.

But, after reading Infinite Jest again, I can’t forget Wallace’s fearless leap into himself, his voice. He is wildly, passionately, his own writer, which is also all I can be. It’s all you can be.

So that’s what I’m doing. Throwing myself into my own voice. Oh, and working feverishly, manically, like those other writers that will make it. More than anything, I think they are obsessed workhorses with a shit ton of grit.

DFW said, “By the end of [my] undergraduate education, [I] was committed to fiction; he told David Lipsky, ‘Writing [The Broom of the System], I felt like I was using 97 percent of me, whereas philosophy was using 50 percent’”. -Wikipedia

That’s how I feel, too. Thanks, David. RIP.

P.S. He also expressed a desire to write “morally passionate, passionately moral fiction” that could help readers “become less alone inside”” -Wikipedia

So, here’s to being passionately ourselves on paper (forgive my industrial revolution era foibles), and in life. I’m working on my grudges but hell, they inform who I am. If I didn’t have deep-seated issues with the patriarchy, I might have given in to the dark side (read: done what others thought I should have done) and gotten a job as a mid-level sales manager a long time ago and stayed there.


Photo by Calum MacAulay on Unsplash