|Keats' death mask, not mine. I think mine got lost in the mail.|
The past few months have given me a renewed appreciation for the great English poet John Keats ("Endymion," "Ode on a Grecian Urn," etc.).
For those of you not familiar with the gentleman in question, he wrote a ton of poetry and published a significant amount of that before his untimely death from tuberculosis at the ripe old age of 25 in 1821.
Not as much.
And I'm nearly twice his age.
Keats' accomplishments are rendered all the more remarkable in my mind by the knowledge that he did most of his best work while dying of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis cut a wide swath through his family, taking his mother and a brother he himself nursed while afflicted with the disease.
I've been fighting a non-lethal, yet chronic lung ailment since mid-September.
My writing output during that time has been pretty much nil.
Now, as I said, I don't have tuberculosis. What I've got isn't fatal. It's nagging and drags me down and wears me out, as few things (aside from fatherhood or standing underway watches in the navy) have, but it's not killing me. That said, it sure did destroy my momentum on my latest writing project.
And that makes me wonder just how the hell Keats did it.
Granted, he didn't have a marriage and a toddler and a career (he never used the medical degree he earned). But based upon my own limited and humbling experience with this sort of thing, I can't conceive how anyone chronically ill and distracted by poor health could clear the headspace to create the sort of art that Keats did.
I have been losing that battle for months and it's only recently that I've begun to be able to wrap my head around the plot problems in my current novel that need addressing before I can move on out of my months-long stall.
So how the hell did Keats do it?
(Let's not limit it to Keats. He's just one example. There are many others in the world of arts and letters)
I ask because I'm taking advantage of the cyclical artificial "beginning" offered by the new calendar year to both recommit to this project, and ask: what are your goals this year, writing-wise?
Mine? Finish my stalled novel, finish three short stories in varying stages of drafting, and start on my next full writing project.
And all before my kid turns three!
What so you all?
Thoughts on pushing through distraction and knuckling down in true Keatsian fashion?