On Doris Lessing, who like heat lightening illuminates a sky much further than you thought

there are quiet moments that like heat lightening ignite a sky we did not know could be illuminated. you know the other illuminations: storm, thunder cracking, black sky, sightless. you know in a storm that that is where you are, water and wind in your face, on your back. and lightening, in a storm, may for that moment guide you or show a world hidden by the downpour and dark.

but heat lightening you never know is coming. And stumbling upon Doris Lessing has been that illumination, a streak across my mind, into a sky I thought I saw clearly. “Changes everything” has become a tired phrase, and, actually, this sudden awe and understanding changes nothing in the concrete elements of my life: I will still write on the same subjects using approximately the same tools and routine I did before. What changes is my internal mapping.

My goal has been finishing stories, getting them polished, published, and eventually collected into a book. The biggest decisions on my horizon were whether to submit to non-SFWA approved markets once stories were rejected by the SFWA market. I contemplated what it would mean to self publish (and then self market) a collection of stories, knowing that that is not the route I wanted, but that it might be the only path available to me.

With Lessing what I see is the weight of fiction. What I see is a mind that gives the world back itself so that it, the world, can learn from its mistakes. What I see, suddenly, is all my stories like so many feathers discarded from a preening bird irate with its low performance, mad about its dingy brown-gray, mad about its small scale.  I am such a bird, preoccupied with projects to build my vanity, while out there, out beyond me, are stories so heavy they sink like stone, but they carry us into the sky.

 

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