Prose for both Hands

Earlier this week I’d written a post called “Ambidextrous,” about how writers need to compose both with their heart and their head. For art comes from one, and craft the other. A left and a right are required to write; one to draft, one to revise and finalize. This is for the creative writer, only; but what of the creative writer who is also called upon to compose so-called scholarly publications (as a creative writer I have been asked many times if I had any scholarly publications knowing full well what they mean, but wondering if they’re hiring a creative writer while would there be an emphasis on the scholarly [it’s a longer discussion to be sure]). The struggle then is not only must in measure the heart be attended to, but much, much more the head. For the academician, the affectus of a writer’s soul must be sublimated for the intellectus. For the creative writer intellect then the guise must be turned off and on, at will. When the creative is required those attributes are called upon, when the intellectual is called to the public square, other traits and skills are employed. But neither is for this special breed of writer at the exclusion entirely of the other; a trace remains and rightly so. It might boil down to initial impulses: for the creative the impetus is to diverge from the writer’s truth (engaging the world by sitting down in front of a page, a typewriter, a computer screen, thinking, and writing) while the impetus for the intellect is to converge on the truth (these are my thoughts sitting here stewing about this or that, with heavy reference to other material, inter-contextually and otherwise to engage the world.) 

Personally, it comes down to making a choice. Be in the messy world and attempt to make sense of it and diverge from this to make it unfamiliar and surprising — new again; or find sense and apply it to the messy world to make it familiar and revelatory. One asks for direct involvement, the other an analysis of it. 

As a writer and intellectual, this explains much about how I struggle, continue to struggle with my aim(s) when sitting down to write. Regardless, I like Mary Ruefle writing in the June 2012 issue of Poetry finds the endeavor disheartening some times. She writes in commiseration: “I suppose, as a poet, among my fears can be counted the deep-seated uneasiness that one day it will be revealed that I consecrated my life to an imbecility… something intrinsically unnecessary and superfluous and thereby unintentionally cruel.”

…And unintentionally schizophrenic converging and diverging at once, a whirling Dervish: one hand pointing down the other point up spinning, spinning in space. 

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