Aunt Margaret is a librarian, and she keeps tabs on how many libraries have my book available to their consumers. She said that in their listing 57 libraries have The Bible According to Eve: the Women of the Torah available. She says there are probably more out there because not all libraries list every last book they have on-line. She also said that while they are all over the world, most are in the U.S. or England. Faust in Love is on the Hoopla network of books that can be downloaded directly and so is my book The Bible According to Eve: Nevi’im II: the Seers.
This may sound like I have made only a small impression on society. However, an impression has been made–or so I insist. Someday, perhaps, I will be on the Best Seller’s list. And then–well, we won’t count our chickens too far ahead before they have been hatched. However, it is things like this that make up a writer’s life.
All my life I have had as my example of how-not-to-live in my father. He was not really a good person, but he liked to play Jazz music. It was his passion. And early on in my parents’ marriage (ultimately they divorced), he could have gotten a studio position in Las Vegas. Now, I am not pretending he ever would have been the great Louis Armstrong or Benny Goodman. Yet if he had done it, he would have lived his dream: to live by his horn. My mom was even excited for him: she already was looking into getting a job in the Las Vegas public school system. However, at the last moment Dad got cold feet. He couldn’t live without that regular pay check the Santa Fe Railroad paid him. So he didn’t take the gig. And music never became more than an avocation for him: oh, he’d get money here and there, but he was not a professional. It got worse after his 2nd wife left him but that is a story better left untold. Anyway, Dad wasn’t much of a husband, father or friend, but I always wonder if the biggest way he let himself down was by not embracing the music and at least being a studio musician. Jazz is the only way I still care about the man.
So it is that all my life I wanted to earn my life by writing… I think my stepdad never really appreciated this about me (too impractical) and Mom insisted I go to college first (her family valued education) and I did go to school and Jim (my stepdad) died… After one year of grad school I sorted through my life and began my writing career in earnest. Now at 44 I still live with my mom and am still hoping my career will shoot off. I guess the life of an “artist” is a selfish life–Mom might have been happier if I had, by hook or crook, gotten a paying job. Yet I just couldn’t care. If writing was all I ever wanted to do, then maybe that was it.
Selfish. LOL. People don’t think of it that way at my shul (I hope) or Breakthrough (where I volunteered for a number of years) but I guess I am. Why? Because all artists are, at heart. I remember reading a Chinese book, Shen Fu’s Six Records of a Floating Life, and how in the Introduction it suggested it was selfish of Shen Fu not to admit his paintings were not very good and take a government job. From one perspective, this might appear true: he had to sell his children into slavery to cover debts because he refused to do anything but paint. Plus, the paintings really weren’t very good. Yet to look at it this way is to not be an artist. No artist will give up their art simply to either live according to society’s rules or obey the dictates of duty. Yet Shen Fu was not an unsympathetic figure to those who read his autobiography: his love for his wife shines through on every page. That, I suppose, is as close as the real artist ever comes to selflessness: refusing to take the government job but then writing the story of him and his only love and wife. No, no true artist is ever anything but selfish towards anyone, not even those he loves. For some reason his devotion to art always comes first. Even as he occasionally gives his last crust of bread to a beggar he will never give up Art to be responsible.
With all that in mind, I hope for the Best Seller’s List. Yet, to quote the song To Life! in Fiddler on the Roof, “If our good fortune never comes, here’s to whatever comes.” I sought to honor God in The Bible According to Eve, even if I suppose selfishness was involved, too. Someday I will write a whole book explaining the need for my book–but not now, because I have other things that need doing.