Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Adventure of Being Ordinary...

William Gedney, Photographer

“What is the adventure in being ordinary? It is daring to love just for the pleasure of giving it away. It is venturing to give new life and to nurture it to maturity. It is working hard for the pure joy of being tired at the end of the day. It is caring and sharing and giving and loving…” -- Marilyn Thomsen

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

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.

I long for those days when I was a child---so very much like the folks in these photos---who found so much pleasure in absolutely nothing. Pitching a tent made out of old sheets between two shrubs, the sweet smell of cotton and warm grass within that cozy shelter. The only thing that could ever draw us kids from that magic make-believe world was our parents' call or the clanging bell of the ice cream truck.

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.


Dorien Grey said...

Ah, the power of simplicity! Your words and the photos you chose to accompany them speak volumes. Rather like looking into a very deep and very clear lake, where the bottom seems tantalizingly close, but is in fact far away.

Nice job, as always, Carol.

Vona Logan said...

Beautiful photos and so simple. I too somedays long for those uncomplicated, unrished days... And I couldn't agree with you more. I love to write and I'm a nobody too, but that's okay because those popular authors were a nobody at some stage too. So we're all the same anyway :-)

Vona Logan said...

Sorry lol, that previous comment was "unrushed days".

Kristoffer Gair said...

How annoying to hear someone say they don't want to pay money to be in a room with nobody. One might say one doesn't want to waste their valuable time away from writing to be in a room with nobody right back at her. Am thinking that's the fan we could all do without. the way. If you ever go to a convention, she's there and you want to say something really sarcastic to her, text me. I'll help.

C. Zampa said...

Dorien, that's so beautiful about the deep, clear lake. Thank you for sharing that image. I love that.

C. Zampa said...

Vona, you are SO right! We really aren't 'nobodies', and we all have to start somewhere.
And if we get to that stage, we'll always remember where we started.
Thank you so much for visiting.

C. Zampa said...

Kage, amen to that.
But now I'm laughing SO hard!! Yes, I will text you!! We will ignore her together! LOL..


by Sarah Lee said...

I love the pictures and also love your words, sweetie! You are one of the most talented writers I've ever read, and are a beautiful person to boot! People like you are rare nowadays! You have a good mind, a good heart, a beautiful imagination and unfailing talent! Never let anyone dampen your spirit or darken your soul.

Love you bunches!

C. Zampa said...

Love you so much, Sarah, my sister.
And the same goes for YOU. The good mind, good heart, beautiful imagination and unfailing talent. Ditto, my friend.

kathyk said...

Wow, I can't believe someone actually said that! Frankly I'm awed by any writer and it doesn't matter one bit how "famous" they are--well actually it might. Unfortunately so many people, once they develop a 'following' can end up believing their press and then I really don't want anything to do with them.

For me it's all about those whose books I love... period, end of story. So yeah, I'd LOVE to go someplace where a lot of my favourite authors hang out--and yep, most of them aren't "famous" and I like 'em just fine!

And you, my dear, are definitely one of them! Man, I'll have to put together my list of must-see authors; I'm pretty sure that for people like "that person" they wouldn't be up to the mark, but that'd be just fine with me... 'cause then I could hoard all those lovely, lovely authors. *grin*

Oodles and oodles of hugs to one of my favourites!!

Unknown said...

Personal contentment of the type you talk about is a beautiful gift for those who find it. Most of us - myself included - are always looking for the next rung up, the next step without wondering if in fact doing well at the step we're at isn't a better option. I struggle with this concept at work more than in my writing life. I like what I do, I'm told by my bosses I'm good at it, but I've been here for a long time. I watch others move on to 'bigger and better things' and wonder if I'm the biggest loser for being happy where I am.

Thanks for this, I found it quite inspiring. :)


C. Zampa said...

Kathy, you're the sweetest thing.
I'm like you. If I love a book, I just love it. I like the authors as people, not just 'who's who.'

Love you, dear one.

C. Zampa said...

Andrew, thank you for visiting!

You know what, it IS the same concept in our working lives as well. You're right! The same feeling of seeing others climb the rungs. It's just a universal feeling, isn't it?

That 'place' is, like you said, a rare gift.

Charlie Cochrane said...

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.

Yes. This. *hugs*

Sue Brown said...

You are 'someone' to me.

C. Zampa said...

***Hugs*** back, Charlie!

C. Zampa said...

I sure do love that Sue Brown lady.
Thank you, my friend.

Lloyd Meeker said...

Somehow all we can be is what we already are. What the world thinks of that is beyond our ability to alter. All I can do is keep reaching inside to be what I am.

Besides, most people in the world wouldn't know whether I was in the room or not. And that's fine with me -- partly because I chose to be there, and partly because I didn't need their permission to be there.

NPT said...

You are most emphatically a 'someone', Carol. Now if you lived in Oz, I would give you a few choice words to pass on to her, but then we Ozzies are blunter and more foul-mouthed than you Americans, so I won't. I shall think them though!

And beautiful photos. So moving.

AlanChinWriter said...

Nice post, Carol. I love the pictures. They remind me of the first 16 years of my life.


Charlie Cochrane said...

If you could ever make it to UK Meet, Carol - or anybody else reading this - you'd be very welcome.

Susan Laine said...

A beautiful piece of writing, C. Lifted my spirits right up, and left me with a hopeful smile. Thank you.

All the best,

C. Zampa said...

Lloyd, yes! We can't change it, can we? Only just make it the best it can be. not asking permission to be in the room. Amen. You're wonderful, and I'd know you were in the room, for sure!

C. Zampa said...

***Hugs*** Nikolaos! And you, my friend, are truly someone to me as well!

C. Zampa said...

Nice to see you, Alan!
They are wonderful photos, and I remind me so of my early years, too.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Charlie! I sure wish I could make it to that!
So many dear friends of mine are Brits and I'd love to meet them, and I'd love to meet you all!

C. Zampa said...

**Hugs** Susan! And thank you!

Anonymous said...

I love this post. Thank you. I really needed to see this today. I hope you can make it to the UK Meet sometime.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Elin!
You gals sure have me yearning to go to a UK meet! Sigh!

hollis shiloh said...

Your words touched me. Thank you so much. <3

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Hollis, for visiting, and for your words!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You write it, I read it, and I usually cry doing so. I also get angry when you hurt. I don't understand the world. And I've been in it a very long time. We can't meet right now, but know that I am embracing you, Carol. Very tightly.

C. Zampa said...

Joylene, one of the biggest things on my things-I-have-to-do list is to meet you, my friend.
****Hugging**** you tightly back!