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RICHARD WILSON MOSS

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 11/10/2014 |





In order for Northspur(my autobiography of the first 30 years of life) to be written or even thought of at all, a great change of philosophy had to occur in the very depths of my being. The one most responsible for such reassessment of my view of the world was the American writer and expatriate, Henry Miller. He is known for breaking with traditional literary forms in his books of semi-autobiographical narration. He introduced a certain mysticism and free association in such works, as Black Spring, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn alongside a pleasant rawness of language and sex. Before I read these great works, I had already written an entire book, stuffed with dishonesty, trite descriptions, and conventional scenes of my boyhood summers on the Rappahannock River. I thought that was what a writer was supposed to do. I was under the spell of many an English teacher in the public schools I attended throughout my life. Write freely about life but not really, they would teach, some things are not be written about, some things are simply not literature. Miller came along and said all things are the stuff of fine literature, especially the unacceptable, the vulgar, the indecent, the subversive, the inane, and nearly everything else I was conditioned not to write about. I was immediately angry at the educators of this world but mostly I was angry at my own stupidity. Miller said in Tropic of Cancer, 'Why are we so full of restraint? Why do we not give in all directions? Is it fear of losing ourselves? Until we do lose ourselves there is no hope of finding ourselves.”  I had, after so many years of being lost, found myself. And found unrestrained freedom of expression of this  self. Miller was my liberator. I threw the manuscript of boring, typical adventures of boyhood into the Rappahannock River one autumn day and sat by myself, sobbing among piles of dead leaves, dead like my ridiculous book now drowning in its own mediocrity. Mr. Miller forced me to look down in the stream and see true reflection, the shit as well as the sparkle of my being. The grief and the joy of self-hood was at last revealed after 45 years of ambivalent deceit. To retain integrity and dismiss the hypocrisy of my existence , I had to write the naked truth. I spent the next year writing Northspur. I am not proud of myself in this book, it tells of things I thought I would never tell to anyone. To redeem my soul, I had to tell it to everyone. It isn't a great literary accomplishment, but it is honest and unpretentious. I am not a great writer. I am not Henry Miller. However, I have bared my soul, if only to mine own eyes and hopefully, others who read it will find the courage to look in the mirror and for the first time see the naked self.




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