The first order of business for the writer is for him to be comfortable with himself and the pursuit of what might be described as author interviews conducted by the self. Which has a strange sound to it, but really is part of the writer's bill of rights. This appears to be a blasphemy upon the conventions commonly held in writing, which is to be largely story based, in an obvious way, a kind of puppet show. This, to be comfortable with the form within, formless as it may seem, is the basis of all, allowing then for the creation of a real character, the self revealed through a narration of events and thoughts. This happens on its own, as one might create a persona, such as this writer has by hodgepodge means created DC Literary Outsider, through a kind of scrapbook, the kernel of which is to be that outsider a writer always is, at least initially, and also to have what to him at least are literary thoughts and considerations. The blog started as DC Outsider, but something compelled me to identify it a little bit more, to side with more soulful things, more broadly based, deeper than a political issue. And anyway, the DC I saw, of service people, chefs and servers, of bars I would wander into late with something to read, just to be out of the house, around people, even if the light was bad, was a good bit different from K Street and Capitol Hill or the office of the Peace Corps or USAID or the World Bank and all that kind of business.
But I felt no urge to write anything in particular, just the daily thoughts as they happened, as if sitting on a pier somewhere with a fishing pole, day by day, nothing major, just seeing what I might catch. It was a regular business, done often enough on the couch straight onto the laptop, without great hopes, sometimes the lazy scribblings down at a Starbuck's patio in a legal pad, just to be out of the house, no longer secluded, around people.
Maybe there was about it, for me, a quiet revolution, as if to say that actually writing had far more value than anything you could put money on, terms of monetary value. That's just how I felt about it, taking it as something worth doing, even as I had to venture into a lack of security, the risks of really having to rely on working double shifts, something I didn't really see as possible, to get by, something I don't even want to think of. Irresponsible, what can I tell you, but it all seemed like really the best I could do.
But who are you, to take it upon yourself to be some kind of hillbilly saint, quietly doing his own thing, largely oblivious to the city's business, a refugee from the Lost Generation too timid to really do the hang out in cafe thing. Writers are dependent people, in need of help and support, as Sylvia Beach of the Paris bookstore helped out a good number, Joyce, Hemingway, not that that will ever happen again.
"In it, but not of it," my mother observes about my condition. But I'll always take writing as a form of self-protection, a way of keeping an identity, self preservation, a way to hang on to my own definitions in the face of less charitable viewpoints. I will say that my status as a literary person, therefore a kind of outsider in the doings of a good portion of the world, allowed me to entertain things that work of me, a diet for people like myself whose veins bear Type O blood and all that went with it, the need for cardiovascular exercise and even writing itself as a way of emotional management. My being a writer, a literary outsider, allowed me to understand the religious tradition, the essential literary quality of a Jesus, of a Buddha. It allowed me a way to let my perceived problems shrink down some.
To paraphrase Tolstoy, every story is about an outsider, that of a stranger coming to town, or of someone leaving the town they come from.