From Richard Ford's The Sportswriter, 1986:
To the extent that it's incompletely understood or undisclosed, or just plain fabricated, I suppose it's true that history can make mystery. And I am always vitally interested in life's mysteries, which are never in too great a supply, and which I should say are something very different from the dreaminess I just mentioned. Dreaminess is, among other things, a state of suspended recognition, and a response to too much useless and complicated factuality. Its symptoms can be a long-term interest in the weather, or a sustained soaring feeling, or a bout of the stares that you sometimes can not even know about except in retrospect, when the time may seem fogged. When you are young and you suffer it, it is not so bad and in some ways it's normal and even pleasurable.
But when you get to my age, dreaminess is not so pleasurable, at least as a steady diet, and one should avoid it if you're lucky enough to know it exists, which many people aren't. For a time -- this was a period after Ralph died -- I had no idea about it myself, and in fact thought I was onto something big -- changing my life; moorings loosed, women, travel, marching to a different drummer. Though I was wrong.
Which leaves a question which might in fact be interesting.
Why did I quit writing? Forgetting for the moment that I quit writing to become a sportswriter, which is more like being a businessman, or an old-fashioned traveling salesman with a line of novelty household items, than being a genuine writer, since in so many ways words are just our currency, our medium of exchange with our readers, and there is very little that is ever genuinely creative to it at all -- even if you're not much more than a fly-swat reporter, as I'm not. Real writing, after all, is something much more complicated and enigmatic than anything usually having to do with sports, though that's not to say a word against sportswriting, which I'd rather do than anything.
Was it just that things did not come easily enough? Or that I couldn't translate my personal recognitions into the ambiguous stuff of complex literature? Or that I had nothing to write about, no more discoveries up my sleeve or the pizzaz to write the more extensive work?
And my answer is: there are those reasons and at least twenty better ones. (Some people only have one book in them. There are worse things.)
One thing certain is that I had somehow lost my sense of anticipation at age twenty-five. Anticipation is the sweet pain to know whatever's next -- a must for any real writer. And I had no more interest in what I might write next -- the next sentence, the next day -- than I cared what a rock weighed on Mars. Nor did I think that writing a novel could make me interested again.
Though I minded like all get out the loss of anticipation. And the glossy sports magazine promised me that there would always be something to look forward to, every two weeks. They'd see to it.
Tags: Richard Ford, The Sportswriter