Friday, April 5, 2013

Why I Can't and Can Live My Dreams Through Fiction

My lifelong dream, the goal for which I've long yearned and pined, has always been to eat like a teenage boy and not gain weight. Unfortunately, I was not born that way. I have never been able to look at a pumpkin pie without imagining what it would be like to eat the whole thing at one sitting, just me, the pie, a fork, and good dollop of whipped cream.

Alas, it is not to be. As much as I love food, I've always had to cut myself off before things get out of hand... and then run several miles to try to work off whatever damage I did before the cut off. Even still, I'm still more soft than lean.

According to the common wisdom, it should be a blessing that I can write my fantasies, that I can live them vicariously through my invented characters. But I'm working right now to write a fourteen year old male speaker, and I gotta say, if I'm doing this right, if I'm fully imagining my character and his experience, all it does is make me hungry.

There's a metaphor there somewhere. Something about artistic hunger. Something about striving. Something about intensifying unfulfillable desire through language.

Lately, I've been wanting to buy some work by Jess Walter, whose story in the latest Best American Short Stories absolutely blew me away. I feel like this is a writer I always should have known. He's from Spokane, for goodness sake! How could I have not always been reading his work? I want to start making up for that right now, but MAN. Where to start? I'm scrolling through his novels, and the dude has been prolific.

Staring at the list of his books has made me hungry in a different way. Hungry to write, to revise, to finish and start again. That, at least, is a hunger I can satisfy by writing. May we all stay hungry, my friends.

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