Washington Irving #AtoZchallenge

Please note that this blog is a work of fiction.

As any number of sources will tell you, Washington Irving was an American author who lived from 1783 until 1859. He trained as a lawyer but decided he did not like that life. He became a writer, first writing under the pseudonyms “Diedrich Knickerbocker” and “Geoffrey Crayon.” He became famous for his stories Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. He also wrote Legends of the Alhambra and a really big biography of George Washington.

Why do I like him? In a letter to Walter Scott in which he is turning down a generous offer from Scott to serve as the editor of a political journal, Irving describes himself:

My whole course of life {…} has been desultory, and I am unfitted for any periodically recurring task, or any stipulated labor of body or mind. I have no command of my talents, such as they are, and have to watch the varyings of my mind as I would those of a weathercock. Practice and training may bring me more into rule; but at present I am as useless for regular service as one of my own country Indians or a Don Cossack.

This is how Irving describes himself and frankly, I would struggle to find words which would describe me better. We are kind kindred spirits, Washington Irving and me.

Yes, I spent many years working as an accountant but what damage those years did to my body and mind I am just beginning to comprehend. With every audit and every balance sheet, every hour worked overtime (not that that was ever compensated) was another nail in my coffin, another outrage to my soul.

Why did I do it? The money was good and that will go a long way toward keeping you working a regular schedule. But there comes a time when you realise the money you earn is just going toward keeping your head above water. The higher up you are in the corporate hierarchy, the better (read: expensive) your clothes need to be; the better your restaurant choices need to be; the more desperate your attempts at “leisure” become. I prided myself on not doing “drugs” like many of my colleagues but between coffee, alcohol, and the various prescription compounds I ingested, I’m not sure what I was so proud of. My drugs were just different than theirs.

So yeah, Irving. I like his self-acceptance. He has a modest view of his talents and let’s be honest here—that modesty is justified. He’s not the world’s greatest writer…but that’s okay. He’s readable and he’s doing his own thing. He finds stuff he’s interested in e.g. the Adirondacks, George Washington, Oliver Goldsmith, the Alhambra and he just gets stuck right in. No apologies, no five year plan.

So I sit here on my front porch, typing away, looking out over this land that I bought and have little idea what to do with but I do know that I love it and that I will find a way.

mountain fabric

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1 thought on “Washington Irving #AtoZchallenge”

  1. I wonder what Irving would make of the many film versions (TV too, right?) that have been made of his Headless Horseman. And yeah, that balance between earning a living and creative self-expression is hard to manage. I felt the same way about my teaching career: it was worthwhile work, of course, and I came to love some of my students, but it was sucking the life out of me. I thank the gods daily that I was able to retire early. Interesting writing here. I’ll check back often.
    @RhondaGilmour from
    Late Blooming Rose

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