Before I go on let me just say that I think if a person is a bit shaky and depressed, a sure way to sink down deeper is public radio. The line-up of world news (always chock-full of atrocities against humanity), discussions of religion, culture, and the environment, and interviews with successful artists is the perfect recipe for suicidal ideation. Okay, yes, that's an exaggeration, but I do love to be dramatic.
Anyway, back to Pat Conroy. Now, I did read two of his novels and I saw the film Prince of Tides but all that is beside the point. For those of you who do not know anything about him, I hesitate to describe him in a sentence or two here. Instead, I would encourage you to look up that public radio interview or simply read some of his books. All I will say is that he is a damaged person. We all suffer some wounding (external and internal) as we travel through life, but his case is extreme. Like many artists, his work is influenced by his damage (I think Pat might say that the word "influenced" is an understatement).
Personally, I just found it interesting that on a day when I was driving around feeling ridiculous because I had written that (unpublished) blog entry, I found Pat Conroy somewhat comforting -- as comforting as a person can be who is so deeply damaged and vulnerable that he is (say the blue words slowly) broke open (and yes, I mean to say "broke").
I keep my comparatively small damage disguised and unpublished. (I'll probably share most of it eventually, but only via fictional character). Pat is different; he dives into it, experiences it, shares it, creates with it -- and his is big damage.
Following that interview, I feel like I know him. I did know a man who was like him, but he did not have the financial and commercial success of Conroy. His name was Hershel (he died of cancer years ago) and he was brilliant, but he never did find a creative outlet to express his pain. He was wide open to other human beings in a way that I could never be. You would think that great suffering in an individual's formative years would make him closed off to others; maybe that is true for some, but not for my friend Hershel -- not for Pat Conroy.
Pat said something else that struck me. He said something to the effect of "Writer's are mean." Gee. I do think of myself as a writer -- not successful, of course -- but I've been writing nearly every day since I was a kid so I guess I'm a writer. Golly. I don't think of myself as mean, but maybe I ought to rethink that? Maybe I am. Some of my fantasies are mean, that's for sure. Generally, though, I don't think I am meaner than the average Jen.
Maybe I'm not damaged enough to be a great writer. Maybe I'm not mean enough. I don't think that's it, though. I just want to write fun stuff -- and for me that's stuff with serious themes -- but stuff with magic and hope. (Now kids, don't use words like "kid" and "stuff" and don't repeat the same word over and over and over and over again)! I write about young people, and innocent people because I'm immature -- I'm absolutely sure about that. It's not my years as a teacher; it's because I am a case of arrested development in many ways. That's a fact. I'm not bragging, and I'm not particularly upset about it. Like my dry, white, skin and terrible eyesight, it's just a fact.
Someday maybe I'll go back to that whiny draft, punch it up, and publish it. After all, isn't writing a blog my big opportunity to complain and pretend that someone is out there listening to my complaints and agreeing with me? I like to imagine her (yes, in this fantasy my reader is female -- not that I wouldn't wish for millions of adoring male fans whose daily pleasure is to log in and hope that I have written some new gems to inspire them -- because I really would!) nodding her head, sympathizing, empathizing, appreciating my point of view.
At the moment, I feel inspired to read a Pat Conroy book. I think I'll fire up the second hand Nook my daughter gave me and read The Great Santini from 1976.