I am ever so grateful to Thomas Wolfe, for what he gave to us in his writings.
Reflections of Thomas Wolfe
By Richard Mabey Jr.
Of late, I have been very little inspired. There is in me, most recently, a certain sadness; a bit of a feeling of a yearning to find that joy and wonder and splendor of putting words down on paper. Lately, I’ve been too distracted by studying the different qualities in paper. Deciding on fonts; basically Arial or New Times Roman. I’ve been thinking a lot about font sizes, torn between a size 12 font or a size 14 font. I’ve been very concerned about the price of producing a single book. Whether or not, a buyer will pray the price.
Lately, I’ve reflected a lot upon the great writer, Thomas Wolfe. How he suffered the rejection from so many people from his old hometown of Asheville. The very people for whom he loved and cherished, spoke harshly against him when his first book, “Look Homeward, Angel” was first published.
Thomas Wolfe grew up in a large, stately home in Asheville, North Carolina. He was the youngest of eight children. Aside from being raised with all of his brothers and sisters, his mother Julia, took in several borders.
I read a bit of “Look Homeward, Angel” today. It is one of my all-time favorite novels. It is basically an autobiography of Thomas’s early childhood to his coming of age. It is filled with sensitive, poetic reflections of the meaning of life.
A rare photo of Thomas Wolfe with his mother at the old Wolfe Homestead.
I don’t know exactly what it is that I am going through. It is a feeling of being shaken inwardly. It is a feeling of questioning my own talent as a writer. It is a time of asking myself, can I really cut the mustard as a writer? Do I really have the stuff to rise above the harsh critics? And then, of course, there is the painful question: if I do pour all of my hard-earned money into the publication of my novel, will I really be able to sell them?
There are times when self doubts plague a writer.
There was a time when I could read just a few pages of “Look Homeward, Angel” and I would feel inspired, uplifted and be filled with enthusiasm to write a story or an article. Something’s changed.
I try to connect with the spirit of Thomas Wolfe, the essence of his poetic writings, his golden truth to find amazing wonder and excitement in the most ordinary and mundane moments in life. Lately, I’ve been too concerned about the business end of writing. Batting my head against the wall, thinking of how to raise the money to self publish my novel. Then, being plagued with fears that I won’t be able to sell enough books to even cover the printing costs.
I, by no means, consider myself to be in the same league as the great Thomas Wolfe. But what I do long for, is to regain that joy, that splendor, that excitement of celebrating the plain and ordinary moments in life, through story telling. I pray to the good Lord for that feeling to return to my heart. Fear and worry are horrible things.
An old creative writer teacher once told me that a writer’s truth, a writer’s majesty does not come through from the celebration of hymn singing, feet stamping and hands clapping. Rather instead it comes through the painful entranceway of self doubts, painful self questioning and the stings and hurts of rejections.
In these times of painful self questioning, agonizing self doubts; I look not to the east nor to the west. Rather, it is deep within my own heart that I search. The hikes along the Appalachian Trail, the canoe trips, the many campouts, buying a comic book at Moe’s Sweet Shop, the old tree fort, playing rummy with my cousin Howard, the tender touch of the beloved girlfriend, the endearing love of a wonderful mother, the strong father teaching me to respect all of life, the remembrance of helping the young sister with her homework. All of it, plain and mundane. Yet, would it be the stuff, from which a book sells?