Sisyphus Was A Writer, Wasn’t He?
Are we all Sisy-whipped? Who is Sisy, anyway?
Between your senior year in high school and the end of your sophomore year in college, you should have been introduced to early Greek literature. Somewhere between the vanquishing of Cyclops by Odysseus and the wild dancing on the beach of Zorba the Greek hero Sisyphus should have made his entry.
He had several characteristics shared with many writers. He was attractive, intelligent, daring, and something of a trickster and scamp. He was clever and conniving enough to get the lord of the Underworld to bind his own wrists with unbreakable chains. He was punished for both his craftiness and his deceitfulness. For an eternity Sisyphus would push a boulder uphill and then after accomplishing his task, he was condemned to watch the bolder fall backward to its point of origin.
Are any of you feeling just a tad uncomfortable? We can divorce ourselves from our physical appearance. We take our intelligence and sense of humor for granted. As writers, these are attributes given by the Gods and accepted as our right.
But, what does pushing a stone up a mountain have to do with writing? How absurd is that? We writers don’t perform such acts of blind stupidity. Or, do we as writers hide behind the stone, and push all the harder?
Consider your latest novel, short story, poem, song, oratorio, or whatever creative masterpiece you have just committed to canvas. The hours spent editing and changing each idea. How often we view words as pieces of a puzzle lovingly placed upon our canvas. We are pushing a tremendous stone up a mountain. At the top of the mount we prepare our gift to the Gods, and just before we receive their accolades and the praise of our fellow mortals, the editor grabs the manuscript and the flame of rejection burns across our great work and it is hurled downward, crashing to its point of beginning.
Do we walk away kicking the violated remnants of our soul to the curb knowing we are not creative people and the effort was a complete failure and deserving of no further effort? The boulder has beaten us. We have pushed it to the top one too many times. It has rolled backward again at an ever increasing speed, and it is far too difficult to avoid. We take our place in the lines of the masses. For us, Sisyphus is one more idiot swimming against the tides of time like Don Quixote or Jean Valjean. But, those of us consumed by the urge to master words,……
pick it up, shake off the dust and take it back to our desk and read it again. This time you read it as a reader, not as a writer and you try to see those small flaws of detraction that holds you back from the recognition you deserve. And then, when everything seems to have fallen into place we are again ready to submit our words to the editor’s pen. We place our hands on the boulder and push for the top. Once again we join with Sisyphus, and as writers, it is a task we learn to relish because the rewards as we ascend the mountain are monumental, if not to our readers than to ourselves.