Similarly, I am an okay touch typist with letters, but have to look at my fingers to type numbers. As a teenager with no manual dexterity, learning to type was a humiliating and taxing experience. I finally got all the letters mastered but when it came to the numbers I figured I’d be writing non-mathematical things. I lost interest.
My first novel is unfinished. I lost interest. And I don’t believe it would be resurrect-able without major work, because it’s a suspense novel about a kidnapping, dependent upon the isolation of one of the characters in an age before cell phones. The first thing today’s reader would ask would be, “Why doesn’t she use her cell phone?” The novel isn’t useful.
The poet Marge Piercy emphasized that she wanted her poetry to be useful.
“What I mean by useful is simply that readers will find poems that speak to and for them, will take those poems into their lives and say them to each other and put them up on the bathroom wall and remember bits and pieces of them in stressful or quiet moments. That the poems may give voice to something in the experience of a life has been my intention. To find ourselves spoken for in art gives dignity to our pain, our anger, our lust, our losses. We can hear what we hope for and what we most fear, in the small release of cadenced utterances. We have few rituals that function for us in the ordinary chaos of our lives.”
I lost interest in numbers because they didn’t seem useful to me.
Join me in the recesses of our own hearts, each of us. By what rubrics, on what bathroom walls, do we find proof that our writing is useful, according to Piercy’s definition of usefulness?