Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lifetime goals

I used to want to be Alice Munro, who didn't publish her first collection of stories until she was 37 (which used to seem very old, but doesn't seem so old anymore at all). But then she started whipping them out, these complex and incredible stories masquerading as boring rural historical type things. She's 79 now, and still going strong, writing more and more amazing stories. I'd still love to be her. And that can still be a goal. A lifetime of writing and living and paying close attention to things others don't notice. I'll have a lifetime of this, even if it isn't eighty years' worth--which is not to say that it won't be. Going strong.

But I'd settle for being Toni Cade Bambara, who was 56 when she died. That would give me another twenty-two years. I could do a lot in twenty-two years. I'd be so happy to settle for that, if that was what I was given.

"Settle for." Don't take that the wrong way, Ms. Bambara. I am not implying disrespect, not in the least. Your stories full of joy and love and so much power... note the sarcasm in "settle for." I'm sure you would. You knew a few things about sarcasm. And know that while I'm pretty sure my students wouldn't appreciate Munro's stories, they get "Raymond's Run", and I love reading it with them. They connect with it, get pissed about it, and they love it.

But anyway. You take what you can get, and you do the most you can. I am writing, and teaching, and living my life.

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