& Karl Gartung)
These people founded Woodland Pattern and still do a whole for it (Anne is executive director, Karl is what they call in the world of sports "the intangibles"). They have some amazing stories. One day, someone will put them together and some place, like University of California Press, will publish it, and then everyone will know. That is good. These are people making "literary careers" in a good way. They have worked and sacrificed personally to keep this place successful for 28 years (except that for Anne & Karl there is really no sacrifice, because Woodland Pattern provides them with great joy and fulfillment, too, like it does for some many people -- from Milwaukee and all over the world). Have you heard of them?
A friend recently told me that he thinks there are two kinds of literary people (or something like that): those who would, if given a choice of exclusivity, choose to never read again and to only write, and those who would choose to never write again and to only read. If you could only do one, which would you choose?
I don't know which one I would do. I think that it was sort of a test of modesty, when he said it, and in that sense I'm not sure what to make of it. But I think more and more, without any judgment on those who would choose the former, that I might align myself with the latter. This isn't due to any sort of humbleness or modesty; it isn't a ploy. I just think that what I read is better than what I write (well, not all of it), and therefore I get more pleasure out of reading. Either way you cut it, the choice is selfish, and that's fine.
To get all Kantian on your asses, if we assume that this question became a matter of universal law -- that everyone must choose (ok, that's not really Kantian, I guess -- maybe a weird sort of Sartrean-Kantian mash-up -- someone get me Girl Talk on the line -- I just had a MONEY idea!), then, in order to keep a literary balance, we'd need some people to choose reading, and some to choose writing. Those who choose reading can only hope that those who choose writing would be the people they want to read.
Of course, this would never happen. We don't need to choose. But sometimes I feel like I want to make this choice. But, in the sense that I would choose to never write again if I did not have to, I think that would be weak. I need to put things in perspective. There's no reason not to write. I like it pretty okay.