Saturday, August 08, 2020

An Old Publication I'd Forgotten About

 I was out in the yard this afternoon, clearing storm damage (we had a tropical storm here four days ago), when I recalled a personal essay I'd had published years ago. Hmm, I thought. I wonder if I can find that on-line.

I could! I love you Internet!

The Woodpile as a Status Symbol was published in the Connecticut section of The New York Times back before I knew squat about writing. This was also back in the day when The New York Times had state sections. They were, if I recall correctly, very feature oriented.

This essay is very dated for two reasons:

  1. I don't like the tone used regarding women. They seem to be treated as cliched assistants to the male woodsmen and not woods people in their own right who for years spent days in forests lugging wood every autumn and keeping wood stoves running all winter, winter after winter after winter. All I can say is I was young, was hunting for my material (I seem to have already found my voice), and, I suspect, was being imitative with my writing. Today if I were going to write about wood piles, I'd add a little historical research or something. I might go all creative nonfictionish or flash memoir. I wouldn't be so glib.
  2. I don't have any facts to base this opinion on, but my impression is that burning wood is nowhere near as popular now as it was back when I wrote this essay. I can remember driving up my road after work back then and seeing smoke coming out of one chimney after another. Not so today. However, I have seen circular woodpiles very recently, and we even had one a few years ago. So the people who are still burning wood are still into their woodpiles.

The Woodpile as a Status Symbol is a good example of life experience inspiring writing. I have spent a lot of time cutting, stacking, and burning wood. 

This was my first publication, and I remember being very happy about it. Now I go years--many years--without thinking about it. And when I thought about it today, it was with a dissatisfied, critical eye. 

Hmm. There might be another essay in there.


Test said...

How fun! 1982 was a different, different time. Your article reflected the prevailing attitudes. I wouldn't feel bad about it at all!

Gail Gauthier said...

Well, yes, it was probably pro-feminist for that time. I believe I meant "little woman" ironically, though it doesn't come across that way to me now.