He was happy with that name but didn’t want anyone having unrealistic expectations that using Edgar might beget. His parents, bookish society folk, were socially acquainted with celebrated author Edgar Allan Poe, and Edgar was named after him. That name cast an enormous shadow. Edgar preferred to write as E.L. Doctorow. He first rose to be a prodigious New York City book editor, and also published an estimable body of critically acclaimed writing under that name. In short, few are better than he was.
Edgar is also widely known and respected for his insight, for a magical metaphor about writing, from which I’ve taken (borrowed) considerably. Describing novel writing, he wrote, “It's like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
I think of it more in terms of how we live life than just good advice about writing.
It is both.
Now, more than ever.
I pondered that principle the other day on my morning walk as the road rose and curved ahead. I could only see two blocks ahead. I didn’t know what was around that curve, or around any corner, until I got that far. I wasn’t worried. It wasn’t night. I didn’t need headlights.
I could only see as far as I could see.
Beyond that is exploration, opportunity, and anything I choose to see.
I’m not trying to reach ‘too deep’ here or conflate reality experience with fiction writing, but it occurs to me Edgar’s quote can give us all some instruction and valuable direction. We need it right now.
While most of us still live in the same places, have jobs, families, and activities which have not relocated, we are each journeying down different life paths.
We can neither see nor imagine what lies ahead of us, with or without headlights.
But if we drive all night …
It is new, this ‘new life’ we are living.
It is not temporary.
We will explore it, exploit it, fight it, and manage it – just as it will manage us, but if we keep driving and stay awake, we will get there.
Not tomorrow, but some morning hence, we will be ‘through it all.’
We’ll celebrate victories along the way. Weather defeats too.
We know already this is not a journey into reliving how we used to live, but more a process of morphing into who we are now, and how we will be.
The butterfly never goes back, never returns to being a caterpillar.
Butterflies can neither fly backward nor reverse their lives.
Neither can we.
We can’t go back. Nobody is coming to save us.
Don’t worry that you can’t see beyond your headlights, we can make the whole trip that way.
So true. Just as your call to me about that pipeline story. Working at home has its blessings but also drawbacks. I am doing more of the work to produce a paper and without being in town and talking to the usual people (sometimes gossiping more than anything) I feel out of touch and isolated. I feel I am marching alone to the edge of the cliff and there is no way to stop falling off the edge (businesswise) but happy with life here at home with my yard and the animals. I am not getting on the town about the role they must take in settling the pipeline people in town nor out there marching the streets for ads (not that it would do any good). Thanks for your help! Now if I could find a person(s) who would be interested in taking over this venture called a newspaper!, D, Oyen, AB