William Gedney, Photographer
Negativity's been swirling in the air once more in the m/m society, and I've watched with curiosity and discouragement...but a tiny bit of relief to be only a tiny speck in the big scheme of the genre. For once, I was kind of glad to be a nobody.
I just write. Simple as that. I think I like that simplicity.
Simplicity. Just working hard. Loving my uncomplicated life, loving my stories, loving my small fan-ship, loving...just loving my situation as it is.
Coincidentally, while ruminating on this 'settlement' of life, this old fashioned mental publishment (sorry---heard this word in an old American folk song and wanted a chance to use it) that's come over me, I stumbled on the photographs of American photographer, William Gedney.
While studying them, I ached with the beauty I found in the black-and-white candids of a series on rural life in Kentucky.
The subjects of the photos, their lives, tore my heart because they were so damn beautiful. Excruciatingly gorgeous because of their basic, raw painting of ordinary lives. Ordinary days.
The photo essay brought me back to my own roots. A very simple life where, as in the photo above, menfolk gathered around the cars and either worked on them or gabbed around them or both. And they were happy. So damn unwealthy yet abundantly rich. The kind of rich I long to be.
I almost cried over this photo. That's my idea of a lovely moment, there on that porch. Coffee in hand. Maybe sad, maybe just tired. But somehow so serene.
That hidden world where men might be as good looking or better looking than most movie stars, but no one knows them, has ever heard of them. They're just ordinary...men.
Something about the porch, no shirts, babies and bottles...
I've visited this porch a million times in my mind. I've sat on on much like it at my sister and her husband's fishing camp. Solitude. Warm, gritty, comfortable. The bevy of brothers in the photo...well, what can I say?
Something so ungodly happy about the nothingness of doing...nothing. Just BEING.
Climbing the tree in the back yard and sitting, hidden in the shelter of its leaves, for hours. Or doing nothing but sitting on the porch. Watching the world as it did nothing either. Reading. Reading and more reading.
No air conditioning, just attic fans that made the window curtains billow like silent, frail ghosts while---one some days---I lay in my bed and did nothing but daydreamed. Listening through the screen of that window to neighborhood kids who were also doing pretty much nothing, only performing their nothingness outdoors.
Oddly, this reverie does sort of connect to my writing life. The beautiful, really beautiful thing about these photos is the absence of the clawing to be anything other than what the subjects are. If their lives aren't up to par with society, they seem totally and blissfully unaware of it.
In reference to an upcoming author/writer convention, a reader blogged that she---quite honestly---did not want to pay money to be in the room with 'nobody' (or was it 'so-so'?) authors. Well, being one of those 'nobodies', that slammed reality in my face. That left me feeling this aching lack of something. This need to try to BE a somebody.
And you want to know something? Had it not been for a reader---for anybody--to scramble us authors around like a handful of jacks in the dirt then arrange us into neat categories, wanted and unwanted---I wouldn't even have been cognisant that I AM pretty much a nobody. Sure, I only have a tiny handful of books to my name, but I thought I was important anyway. I naively thought I fit in somewhere in the big scheme of authorly things. This reader kindly, very politely, informed me I am wrong.
It stung for a while. But, then---once my self-confidence washed away the stark truth---I still came back to who I am, to my heart. And my heart is an author's. I'm glad to say that the reader's proclamation of my invisible status in the writing world cannot change that. Damn it, I'm still proud and I'm still going to write. Because I'm not too bad at it.
I want my career as an author to be the simple, beautiful way of these photographs. To just write and be content and enjoy the loveliness that comes with writing to create, not writing to be popular, not writing to BE something. Since I can't STOP writing, no matter how many bloggers inform me I'm not worthy to share the room with the 'must have' authors, I might as well embrace it and do the best work I can. Not to be popular.
But because it's how I do things.