Monday, November 28, 2016

Delayed discoveries

Imagine that some creative work you produced in your late teens--for which you had high hopes, but it never went anywhere then--has been "discovered" decades later. This work that's so far in your past is current and fresh to others. It's what they know you for. Whatever directions you've taken since then, however much you've changed, now you must revisit that old work.

This is the premise of True Story, volume 1, a nonfiction essay called "Fruitland." Two young brothers recorded an album in the late 1970s, which only received wide attention and celebration within the past few years. It makes for an interesting read, but it also made me question how much of my own adolescent writing I would still stand behind. I'm a better writer now, I hope. My perspective on many issues has changed; I'm much more politically aware now. There's little of my unpublished work from back then that I would care to put forward now.

And yet, who would want to turn away new fans, no matter how belated the attention, no matter how far we've come since creating that work? We all know that some artists aren't even discovered until after they're dead.

It just reminds me that fate is quirky, and art is unpredictable, and we never know where the dandelion seeds of our work will drift and take root.

4 comments:

  1. I think being forced to revisit earlier versions of ourselves can bring about some uncomfortable moments. I'm more a believer in revising and reworking old pieces to make them readable than to expect that these old pieces can simply sell themselves.

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    1. I would agree. Although if the artwork is already out there, one may not have a choice about which version people see.

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  2. Wow, that is one crasy story. Music seems rather different than writing, though. I can't imagine my old, old work being seen as anything but rather painfully naive. It would be kind of entertaining to dig out a piece or two though. As you say, you do never know about what seeds will take root.

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    1. I was once at a book/writing festival where an author read from her teen diary. How much her life and writing had changed!

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