Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Henry James as Psychological Anchor

Whenever life becomes "too much" and I feel like I am constantly trying to catch my breath due to anxiety--I return to those writers who, alone, can soothe my malform'd mind.  I am in need of such a psychological anchor nigh, because the weird emotional turmoil that has resulted from my mother's death on the 22nd weighs heavily on my soul.  I'm a mess and I cannot function.  My natural inclination to laziness intensifies, and I do nothing but sit and fret because I'm doing nothing.  For over a week now I have been meaning to begin writing my first novel, which I have entitled The Fabulous Darkness, and mean to be a Sesqua Valley novel inspir'd, in part, by Derleth's The Lurker at the Threshold.  I need to approach life with as much sanity, inner-strength, and genius as I possess; I am in desperate need of order and function and facility.  And so I am reading Henry James--and about Henry James.  He was every inch an artist.  He lived the Literary Life as I wish I could.  People sometimes think I want to be a new Oscar Wilde--but I would much rather be a new Henry James.  Oscar was brilliant, but James was a magnificent work-horse.  I've lived my hedonistic existence, doing only that which brought me pleasure--and thus I see that pleasure is useless and empty compared to industry and literary work.  Pleasure and bohemianism has given me some wonderful friends and gobs of good memories, but such things lack substance when one is antique and staggering to one's grave.  Oscar was idle--and Henry produced.  More and more I hear, echoed within my skullspace, James's cry of "Produce!  Produce!"

Wilde has taught us that whatever is realised is "right"--and I realise now that my main pleasure in life comes from being Literary.  I have spent the past few years writing like a madman.  I have "produced."  A new hardcover collection this month, another next month.  They are good books--but I want to write better ones.  I want to do my life's best work.  And thus I return to the artist who most influences my need to write beautifully, honestly--the writer I most want to emulate: Henry James.  Now, when I open a James novel, or one of the five volumes of his collected stories from The Library of America, I feel as if I am entering a fantastic cathedral, a place of divinity and genius and art.  It is a sanctuary indeed, a place of peace and sanity.  The Works of Henry James is my Holy of Holies, and I go there now to drench my mind in the wonder of his Work.  And peace of mind will blossom into inspiration and determination.  And I will write my finest things.  Selah.


  1. Wilum, your Muse sits with you within and without while Henry James urges you to clarity of purpose, perfection of poise and prose. Delicacy and direction... Life grants inspiration from memory. Strength comes in your own words. Universes are created from thee darkness of the Void. Peace and love and strengthening vibes to you at this difficult time.

  2. I only got around to reading The Aspern Papers last summer. I'm not sure which version I read, but it is my very favorite of Henry James' books which I've read to date.

    Hang in there. Hopefully you'll be able to concentrate on your writing again soon.

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