Gingerly, like the footsteps of some barefoot hillbilly sauntering out over twigs and gravel on an early spring morning, this website is a tentative, early development in the quest of a would-be author seeking to establish himself. Rousing Departures, in addition to being a launch-pad for miscellany, will be the web presence from which I’ll base and document my attempts at approaching professional status; a substantial departure in modus operandi from my writing ventures of the previous few years.
Bruce’s Rave and Rant (2005-2007), while not aiming to be purposely brutish, was authored with a rather callous disregard for prose. It was an indiscriminate venting of spleen, even if conveyed with an intent towards the facetious. It was a personal affair with a leaning towards the scientific and political, tongue half-in-cheek and brandishing a stated principle that argument was more important than quality of tone – in practice to the near complete exclusion of the latter.
Thinkers’ Podium (2007-2011), starting with an unexamined urge to gain greater clarity and serenity in thought and writing (and an unintentionally grandiose title that still makes me cringe), was in conflict with other imperatives inherited from its predecessor. An increasing appreciation and enjoyment of writing was at odds with a decreasing, but still problematically lax attitude towards publication.
It’s a cliché that writers need to ‘find themselves’ in order to meaningfully assemble words with authenticity, or the appearance thereof, but it’s still true at least for me. Near the end of Thinkers’ Podium, I started the process of finding myself as a writer before even seriously looking – something revealed not in the miraculous sense, but from the incidental peeling back of layers of mental obstruction. Now I’m left deciding what to do with what I’ve found.
A glacier has sat frozen atop my psyche for much of the past eighteen years, encroaching over most of what passed for creative outlets, or adventures.
Every now and then a small surge of inspiration would escape through a crevasse before quickly being spent. But there’s been a change in climate – the glacier has been thawing for some time now. Here I find myself; newly exposed in the sunlight, shivering a little.
At all points, there has been a strong vestigial urge towards making something with words, even if numbly expressed. But now with the warmth newly spreading through me, my feeling is returning. A turn of phrase can lighten my day in ways not possible in ages. A well-crafted insult, even if intended to offend me, can be potentially as enlivening as the first birds returning south, or the first flowers of spring bursting from cold ground.
With the aid of new, seemingly nearly alien senses, I’m re-finding myself creatively, but now with intent. I don’t know where exactly this is going, but intuitively, it makes more sense to me than what I see when I look back over my shoulder. What was I thinking?
So here we are. Rousing Departures. Roused from hibernation over a very long winter, to continue rousing conventional people to fury.
As always, there are things I think need to be said. Call me an opinionated oaf.
Many of the more problematic idées reçues, be they political, scientific or cultural, are often problematic not for being wrong (if they can be described as wrong), but for the very fact that they are conventional. It’s conventional to believe that Australia being tough on boat people alters asylum seeker movements toward Australia. This is factually wrong, yes, but it’s more of a problem for being conventional – so what if a hundred Australians are fooled by this? It’s what millions can do collectively when so mistaken that’s primarily of concern.
It’s as true of creationism as it is of cliché; certain notions, when they gain a foothold within a critical mass of the populace, can make life unpleasant (often for the very people beholden to the idea – consider the Tea Partiers). I don’t pick at myths like these with the aim of rousing anyone to fury, at least not in the first instance (I do have other motives). But the stated outcome seems nearly inevitable.
This is the spirit of Rousing Departures; resignation to the fact that saying something worthwhile will probably offend, and chosing to live with this offense, albeit not passively.
It seems to me there is a convergence of sorts between the development of these values, aesthetic and dialectic, and the emergence of a serious intent towards professional writing. Affective developments have arced towards an imperative to critique, in turn arced towards by a maturing need to write; none of this by design, but now so close as to be mistaken as such. Now close enough to be brought fully together by intent, this tripartite of values is possibly what is needed of a good, modern writer; a growing love for prose, a need to engage through writing, and a willingness to be construed as offensive in service to being informative, or at least in the breaking of ennui.
(Whether or not I successfully develop these inclinations into something professional is a matter for tomorrow’s, tomorrow).
So that’s it – the final distance between my writing’s raison d’etre and my growing joie de vivre is being closed, possibly trapping me in a trajectory aimed at a future, tragic wreck, where I’ll be found frothing at lamented decisions. Then again, the direction all of this has been moving so far has been good to me. I can’t complain. I’ll have no good reason for regrets even if I fail, unless of course I just give up.
The trick, I think, in advancing my writing in the midst of upsetting people, will be making it sufficiently worthwhile for you lot out there. That and a bit of patience.