I was reading a poet writing about writing - something I do very little of on this blog, but I do a lot of thinking about it. The poet quoted Chaucer who wrote at the end of Troillus and Cressida, "go, litel bok, go". I have been haunted to these four words for a couple of days now and even started a poem. I suddenly felt so a great closeness to dear Jeff [fancifully shown in the picture on his way to Canterbury]. Doesn't every writer finish a piece of work and want to release it to the world like a bird one has nurtured from it's hatching but wants to free to live the life that it deserves in the wild? And isn't that a fitting metaphor for a story, poem, play, whatever piece of writing and for the writer's desire to have fashioned an entity that can exist on its own?
In Chaucer's time story tellers were admired but they probably had little hope of their work outlasting them. Not many people were literate and books were rare except in rich men's homes. He couldn't have guessed that his poetry and his simple tales about a bunch of fairly ordinary people on a pilgrimage "that April" would still be read and enjoyed well over 500 years later. Today we have too many books and publishers are miserly gatekeepers. Few of us can hope that when we finish our work and say, "go, little book, go" that it will reach any audience beyond our friends and family -- and most of us have learned that both friends and family are unreliable readers. Of course the same is true of blogs -- of the thousands and thousands, only a handful have many readers. And yet, when I hit the "publish post" I am saying, "go, little blog, go" and hoping someone will read it. Certainly I am not alone, but in this case company is part of the problem -- how will anyone have time for me or I for the many who are saying interesting things?
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