I am beginning to think I have left it too late. The writing life, I mean.
I read those who actually ARE writers (by that I mean they have a consistent literary presence, and often for pay) and I recognize that my writing is too pale, too tentative, too "little." Young writers these days are so brave. They write about everything, and they write without fear and without guilt. They say their own truth, they tell their own stories, they do not pull their punches. Sex is a big part of today's literary scene - always was, really. But the way today's real writers get it down on paper is so gritty, so hungry, so intensely descriptive that it takes my breath away. Today's world craves intimacy, and this is one manifestation of that. We are all connected better than ever before, but it is at a distance. We can talk online and with pictures anytime we like. But the human touch, the breath of another person, the touch of another person, that we do still absolutely crave. Skin on skin is good, soul-feeding. We can rest in each other's physical beingness, if you will. And today's writers get that. They are above the pretty story, the well-told tale. They celebrate all the corners of a life, whether it is lived in style or squalor. All of it, all of it matters.
I am often looking to write a good story, one with character development, character arc. I try to write what has a solid structure, a good beginning, middle, and end. But when all is said and done there is so much more I want for what I write. I want to be able to put the sweat on the page, the fear. I want to be able to put the joy and the tears there too. I'm timid about that. I'm so worried that from my perch at 71 what I write won't mean a thing to anyone who isn't up there on that same ledge, hoping to find another way farther up the mountain. And I fear that what I write will seem so pale compared to the bold strokes younger writers use.
I always said I just wanted to write a good "airplane" book. But I realize now that isn't really what I want. I want to write a REAL book, a book that has meaning, not just story. I want to write something that opens a wider crack in the murky light that seems to surround so many of us. Wanting this is a beginning, I know that. Longing for it is a start. Maybe being honest about this struggle will open me, make me less timid, less afraid.