Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beaujolais Nouveau?

I’ve got a serious wine question. It’s probably one that everyone who seeks his fortune in letters should probably learn the answer to. Here goes:

Does a leftover bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau actually get better with the passage of time?

I mean if, say, you discovered one deep in your wine cupboard five years later, will it have matured into something better than the tart little tooth tinter that it was at the party?

Can something that young and fresh and vibrant have any chance of mellowing into a bottle akin to a rich, round burgundy?

The reason for this contemplation, beyond, of course, my recent unearthing of just such a bottle, is to consider this in relation to some of my dormant fiction.

You know what I mean, the long ignored trunk novel that has gathered dust along with the fevered dreams of my youth of a runaway bestseller. Can’t miss, I was certain, as I poured my heart into every page.

Sadly, having talked to one of my oenophile friends, it turns out the more likely fate of that aged bottle of tart green wine, is a toothsome brown vinegar. Or worse.

I wonder if that is true of fiction as well?

Is the trunk novel just the burble of the naive young writer -- a snapshot of the unsophisticated novice author? Or is it dormant genius -- a long forgotten early masterpiece that portends future greatness?

Alas, my sad conclusion is that it is much more likely the former.

While the exuberant writing of youth is often aflame with unfamiliar passions, unfortunately, the prose is seldom as inspired. At least that has been my own disappointing experience.

To wit, I’ve come to smile nostalgically at the moleskins of my youth … the treasured little notebooks that I was certain at the time were capturing the truths of the universe.

Of course, I was a beer hall author versus the coffee shop variety. My muse would typically find me a few drinks  into an evening and many of my most inspired passages are smeared with the perspiration of a frosty draft.

The other thing I’ve quietly noted about my ancient treasures is that time, too, has a way of marching on. What was once the topical genius of the nascent writer has now been tempered by the inexorable march of time.

I noticed this quite prominently in the anachronisms that occur with regularity in my previously unpublished works. Usually as verbs and adjectives.

Cell phones were opened and snapped shut. My heroes consult maps. Tweets and texts were nowhere to be found. 

Just as disappointingly, the essence of love isn’t captured in the epic licks and riffs of the pop legend … Journey.

What was ubiquitous in the eighties and nineties is now the stuff of nostalgic longing. Probably the same could be said of my writing from that time.

There are no easy answers. You never can go home again. I believe the challenge for every author is to write in the moment -- to seize the energy and zeitgeist of the times in which he is writing.

I believe everyone who is embarking on a voyage of e-publishing owes it to himself and his readers to be sure that the content is just as fresh as the day on which it was conceived. That we're not rushing stale goods to market.

While Captain Morgan’s ship may have recently been discovered in its watery grave, me thinks that everything that is brought to the surface will most likely be barnacled and decayed.

Oh, there will no doubt be some precious artifacts and treasure. But mostly there will just be reminders. 

I suspect the same is true of my ancient writings … a few good turns of phrase penned by someone long forgotten.

And that bottle of Beaujolais? I believe I’ve answered my own question. I’ll pop the cork, give it a sniff, a swirl and a swish. Then more than likely I will consign it to the drain.

But by God that lovely bottle has inspired me to finish, this, my morning writing exercise. Not bad for a five dollar bottle of plonk.

And with that, it is probably best that I begin to write something of consequence.


R. Bruce Walker is author of the recently released advertising novel, JESTERS’ DANCE. He is hunkering down on a new work set against the back drop of the energy industry entitled, THE LAST CANARY. His blog is a worthy distraction.