Before I ever started writing, I was obsessed with the authors I was reading. I was interested in their progression – how they went from ordinary people to these Gods of Literature. So, I I would investigate – still do – to see what I was not doing in my own path to becoming a God of Literature too. This was before I even began to write, mind you.
University courses were a great boon to this preoccupation because professors, bar none, love sharing biographical information about the author of whatever work we are reading that week. It is a field of criticism even!
I find myself still doing this, hopefully not too much. I don’t have the free time I used to, but it is still easy to get in a quick few seconds of ‘research’ every now and again, even inadvertently. I recently toured Michigan and Chicago, and went to visit the place where Hemingway summered as a young man, around my own age, though he was married by now. I didn’t plan this, it just happened to be the place I was told we were visiting. My family, mainly my mother and her sisters, plan these longer vacations – I just go where I’m told to and try to be helpful when I can. Don’t let anyone tell you that other generations aren’t fascinating. They may be crotchety sometimes, but, for example, my mother grew up with the advanced technologies of rotary telephones and is now using a Samsung, and each person in our family has a laptop. But I am not really here to go on about the technological advancements of the past half-century…
I learned a lot about exploring one’s interests through one’s writing on a tour of the town of Petoskey. It showed some of the places in the town where Hemingway had spent time, and what he’d done. It was interesting, then, to buy the collection of “Nick Adams” stories which feature the town and, presumably, Hemingway as a young man. I think it has really helped me understand how personal experience can be implemented in creative writing, but it’s been less than a month – probably too soon to be drawing conclusions, eh.
Another interesting character is Luigi Pirandello. He’s an Italian modernist who mainly was involved with the theatre, though he had his hand in many jars. He was a poet, novelist, playwright, and painter. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934.
I am taking a whole class exploring the man’s life and works. He was hilarious, mean and capricious. A man who would’ve been interesting to get a beer with that’s for sure.
I just hope I am setting the right foot in front, making the subtle almost inconsequential steps towards this outcome.