Permission to Play Jazz
A holiday hiatus from the blogosphere was necessary so that I could gorge myself into blissful ham-induced catatonia. But in the New Year, my coma subsided and my naturally flowing narcissism returned, the blathering must blather! As Lawrence Olivier once said in response to being asked why actors desire to be actors, “Look at me look at me look at me look at me!”
A bit of business:
The Pulitzer Project continues though I’ve discovered a tiny hiccup in the venture that requires a some explanation: In several instances, a Pulitzer winner may be a novel that is in a series of novels and said novel may or may not be the first in that series. New guideline: If aforementioned winner is not the first in the series, I must read its predecessors first for context, character development, and yada yada blah blah. This will prolong the project but since I’m not going to finish this thing until my early forties anyway, please calm yourselves. This isn’t a race. Clearly, because I read at a turtle’s pace.
That being said, my next book in the project is not a Pulitzer winner, but the first in a series: The Sportswriter by Richard Ford. The second in the series, Independence Day (no, not the novelization of the so-bad-it’s-good film), won the award.
A bit of revelation:
One of the residual (or possibly direct?) effects of the Pulitzer Project is the newfound courage in my writing or the courage to write at all. I know that the going advice for aspiring writers has long been to read widely, which I always took to mean exposure to various styles, and it does mean that. But I’m now discovering that it’s not just exposure to various styles, but exposure to the upsetting of style or the invention of new wholly unique styles – which in turn gives permission to my own voice.
This revelation is not the dismissal of respect for established style. I realize that before Toni Morrison narrated from Beloved’s perspective (a thing to behold if it can BE HELD!) or before Jennifer Egan wrote an entire chapter in flowchart slides that each spent eons in established style, playing their scales as it were before experimenting with jazz. I’m not denying that which came before. I’m just excited to play some jazz too, and not apologize for it.