Yesterday was one of those days which forces me to be keenly aware of the conflict between commerce and art, between writing enough to keep the bills paid yet also remaining true to my art and writing the best that I may possibly write. In my case, these two things are almost always diametrically opposed, commerce and art. I may do one, or I may do the other. Most times, I struggle to maintain some semblance of balance, which is to say that I write the best I can under these conditions, the best I can write while still managing to keep the bills paid. Writing is surely my "job," if I may be said to have a job in the conventional sense, but I cannot shake the conviction that writing ought never be considered a job. It may well be considered difficult, certainly the hardest thing I've ever done, but that's not the same thing. I think that's one reason so many American writers are more comfortable calling writing a "craft." Those two words — craft and job — are not divided by the same sort of gulf as art and job, and this is a society wherein Job is the most sacred of sacred duties, as Economy is the one true and consensual religion. There are at least two other reasons the word art scares or repulses many writers, but for now, I'll make do with just that one.
There is an ideal state, if one is successful enough, when writing may largely escape the warping effects of commerce. But, for this to happen, each novel or short story must not only pay bills. It must also bring in enough money to buy enough time that whatever the next bit of writing to be done is, it may be written in the time required for its writing. Not the time I can afford to give it, but as much time as is needed. For me, at least, those two things are rarely ever the same. The less commercially successful a writer is, the more a writer must produce (assuming here that writing is the sole source of income). And this is one of the things I spent yesterday thinking about. It is something I spend many days thinking about. Some will find these thoughts poorly articulated, or missing some authorial jargon that would make them more seemly. But I'm not the sort of writer who ever enjoys talking about writing, so I don't make a habit of it. I don't take part in those endless and subjective debates from which one learns jargon and so forth. I just write, to the best of my ability in the time allotted, which means I am rarely ever allowed to write to the best of my ability.
How can it be 12:40 p.m. already?
Spooky has added Raven Green and Raven Blue to the auctions. All four of these are splendid pieces. Were this summer and I had no heating bills to fret over, I would have thrown some sort of tantrum to stop Spooky from selling them. Ah, well. At least I have Hieronymus Borscht. These are wonderful, handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces, the result of more than a month's work, not something PVC scraped from the innards of an automated injection mold at the behest of Todd McFarlane. I do hope you'll have a look.
12:49 p.m. (CaST).
Two movies I have recently seen but not commented upon. Quick comments only, though. We saw Woody Allen's Scoop on Sunday, and I loved it. A funny, charming film, and it redeems Scarlett Johansson for the Brian De Palma debacle. Last night, we watched Werner Herzog's The Wild Blue Yonder. I should say that I adore pretty much everything Herzog has ever put to celluloid. But I'm still contemplating The Wild Blue Yonder, a "science fiction fantasy" constructed of stock footage from the NASA shuttle expedition that launched the Galileo probe, lectures given by mathematicians, and dives beneath the Antarctic ice shelf, all tied together with bits of narration courtesy Brad Dourif. Here's the thing: the film works wonderfully so long as Dourif's Andromedan refugee is actually only a crazy man rambling delusional thoughts in the desert, creating a collage from the stock footage to illustrate his insanity. But if I try to view the film the way that Herzog intended it, as a story of aliens arriving on Earth, deadly microbes released from the Roswell crash, a human expedition back to the aliens' homeworld in Andromeda, etc., the whole thing falls apart. If only because the science is too wonky to ever be anything but the ravings of a mad man in the desert. Still, it's a beautiful film, superbly scored, and in its best moments it presents the sort of awful beauty and wonder we experience in, say, Alien, as Lambert, Kane, and Dallas walk across that alien planet towards an even more alien derelict.
Today the temperature is supposed to go as high as 57F and no windchill. So, I shall have my first genuine walk in more than a month. I'm not going to miss the opportunity, because the cold weather returns tomorrow.
Okay. That's it for now.