Archive for Thoreau

Writers Today vs. Writers of Old (Part 1)

Upcoming…

  • Writer of today compared to that of yesteryear
  • Traits of the historical writer
  • Quips on modern society
  • A promise for more to come

 

Being a writer- prior to twenty years ago (give or take), it meant basically the same thing throughout the ages, creative spirit holed away somewhere, isolated, banging out page after page on a typewriter. I imagine Jack Kerouac sitting at an old wooden desk, not old in that classy antique sort of way, but old in that just plain old, beat-up, and forgotten by time sort of way, the luster gone, wood splitting and rough, the legs uneven and wobbly, the surface barely suitable for a family to eat at, years of abuse- but perfect for the true writer, for the artist who cares not for the luxuries or even sometimes the bare necessities in life, but rather is so laser focused on their craft that they will sit in a skid row motel, at an abused desk, eyes blurry from countless hours of straight typing, just being what they are. I pick Kerouac as he is an inspiration for me, a lighthouse that has guided me in my writing; but while the scenario may change from skid row motel, it is the same for the writers of history and legend- simplicity in their craft.

Artist, paper, pencil/pen/quill (you get it), typewriter, and whatever ambience/setting they need, mixed in with a little inspiration (the indulgences), and you have the skeleton of a writer’s life. Sprinkle in some poverty, heartache, struggles, pains, misery, with a sense of adventure, excitement, inspiration, and you have the perfect storm for so many of the writers that have etched their names in history’s library.

What is it all? Simple- it was simple. Life was simple, if not a challenge for the writer. The term starving artist is there for a reason. What made the memorable ones memorable and countless more that time has forgotten is singular focus- Writing. They wrote because that is who they were, and they shut out much of the rest of the world (unless it suited them to engage with the world for their writing).

So what is the writer’s life like today? There is no way to marginalize all the unique personalities and life paths that the pantheon of today’s writers have, yet I will (forgive). Today’s writer still has all the characteristics I described earlier, the simple mad crazy driven desire to do their art, a willingness at times to forgo anything else, and the need for the right setting, but with all of that (which was enough and often too much for writers of yesteryear) they have modern (last twenty years) society. The internet, social networking, self-publishing, celebrity obsession, technology entwined into EVERY component of life, and looking out- a world that would seem like science fiction and make a good many of the writers of yesterday shed a tear for humanity.

How pure and how true it must have been to have been the writers of a long gone era, just to write and experience life. Thoreau never had to worry about how many Twitter followers he had, whether he should self-publish or not; he never overthought about a photo he was taking and what filter to use before it went up on Instagram. Critique today comes from the anonymous, the obscure, the virtual masses so quick to destroy your passions with hateful words spewed out over a laptop’s keyboard.

There is a lot of greatness, exposure, possibilities and new mediums that come with this modern age (more for another post), I acknowledge that- but for today, for right now, I am on the idea of the writer’s life as it exist in its simplest form- one individual- writing. Modern benefits aside, one cannot deny that the scope of the writer, the need to stay connected, and the overexposure at times, has taken away from much of the simplicity that has always been at the core of being a writer.

Leather bound journal and pencil have been replaced by laptop, tablet, smart phone, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc…and for many, that is pure bliss, exactly what they want, what they need. But there are throwbacks out there. The writers who prefer to stay low-tech, carry paper and pen as they stomp throughout the world in search of their next inspiration- Thoreau at Walden pond, Kerouac at Big Sur. It is for those that I write.

As I said, there is much more to be said for the modern era of writing, and I will, just not right now. For now, I am going to pack up the computer, turn off the music, not obsess over Twitter or Facebook- for now I am going to disconnect and go out into the world. I encourage you to do the same.

 

Looking Back…

  • I generalize and romanticize the writer, but it was different, simpler before
  • The modern day writer must be plugged into social networking, the media, the age of technology
  • While this is a godsend for many modern writers today, there are throwback writers (old-school)

Author’s note…

  • This topic could be written about for hours and days, endless in its length of discussion. This is a snippet, a quick thought burst from one modern day writer.

I will do a companion (part 2) piece that highlights the benefits of the modern era. Stay tuned…

A Summer’s Day Drink

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Upcoming…

  • Summer day writing
  • Patio beer garden
  • The midday crowd

Author’s Note…

  • I wrote this piece a few weeks into my new push to write on a serious level after having just left the corporate world behind. I have several writers who I admire and on this day found myself  imagining myself alongside them, observing the world.

 

Another day out to write. These days became a mecca for me, something I pine for each day (be in the moment Scott). Just a little bit past the noon hour and I find myself seated outside at a patio bar in Wheaton, Illinois. Chair and table, while comfortable and a perfect location to see the entirety of the patio and have the rays of the sun kiss my skin, are amusing to me. A rather cheap plastic (maybe not plastic- but I call everything plastic that is not metal) with a sublimated inlay to give the visual illusion of wicker furniture. Who knew wicker furniture was so sheik and something to be cheaply imitated for the masses. My drinks have arrived. The sun hits my neck in a way that I know my skin will be altered by it- the days of summer. I mention the furniture not as a knock on the establishment (although I am sure that is how it reads- do not pass judgment Scott), but simply as a unique observation (thank you Jack- the observation machine). Life is different now in this career transition, living the life of a writer on these days, the freedom, the art, the craft, the adventure. The world is different now on a Thursday afternoon, Chicago suburbs, at a local ale house. the people I see are different- a wonderful concoction of office workers out for lunch, stay-at-home parents (like me) meandering through the afternoon, latte in hand, clad in hidden mystery sunglasses, the random wanders who neither appear to be office workers escaping the day, nor stay-at-home moms and dads, but rather nondescript (to the casual observer) in their societally chosen lot (and here I am, wanting to escape that, yet I perpetuate)- entrepreneurs, like myself…or maybe they are just wanderers, wanderers in life’s infinite mystery. We’d all be so lucky. As I turn the page, the sun continues its rotation and is now absorbing not just my outer facing arm, but my entire body. Summer days. The patio at Warren’s has quickly gone from my own little slice of solitude to a near bustling party. A table of suburbanite family, followed closely by a young duo of early twenty-something girls (tea pleased, unsweetened, with a lemon). This is merely the start to my evening. Later tonight I meet brother and friends for drinks and dinner in Schaumburg.

I often wonder how the great writers (in my mind) enjoyed their days how did they spend them, in pursuit of inspiration and their art? Would they be out on a veranda, on a warm(ing) summer afternoon enjoying a few drinks, pen and paper in hand? I like to believe they did exactly that. Kerouac, Thompson, Bukowski, how were your days? Thoreau, how was your old-timey day?- Brilliant and simple? My jealously runs deep. The sun is reaching an apex on me, taunting me with its beautiful dazzlement, while scorching my flesh. Oh cruel bringer of ruin and joy- that is life.

 

Looking Back…

  • The artist exist amongst society, while experiencing the everyday happenings through a different lens