I need to read those books. I want to read them. They broaden my thinking and infuse their voices into mine. My mind is shaped by the minds I see into, and my words, my form, are a gravy composed of other’s.
Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom are to blame for my choppy, incomplete sentences. Nick Carraway, boy, what can I say about his influence? He shows through now and then, but he holds back too often. Perhaps I should read what he has to say again. Double the ingredient. Rabo Karabekian and Trout and the rest cause me to use conjunctions at the beginning of nearly every sentence. And Rabo brings me down to Earth when I get too ethereal. Winston Smith makes me fear what’s around every corner, but my soul inherently finds thrill in turning those corners blindly. And Mona S. gives me all the creative liberty I care to take, though Denise N. sternly chastises me for ignoring the rules of grammar that she took great care to instill in my writing. James Joyce does the same as Denise does in his hypocritical way. He makes rebellion of proper form an art. He is the mad genius that drives me.
My stories lack maturity. But my thoughts don’t. Translating my expression into narrative form is my weakness. Perhaps what I’m missing is a message.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
What in Fitzgerald’s life made him think of something so profound?
I’m not digging deep enough inside myself to find the burning questions. My life has not been void; the questions are in me somewhere. As a child wrapped up in a world of mystery, I have much to draw from.
The form and content are everything, and I’ll find them. Or maybe it’s the message that matters most. Whatever the case, I need to read those books.