Importance of being Earnest

ear⋅nest

–adjective

1. serious in intention, purpose, or effort; sincerely zealous: an earnest worker.
2. showing depth and sincerity of feeling: earnest words; an earnest entreaty.
3. seriously important; demanding or receiving serious attention.

–noun

4. full seriousness, as of intention or purpose: to speak in earnest.

So Wendy McClure emailed me back, which was super nice of her. She said that a lot of her fanmail has people saying they hate themselves for writing (as I had). It made me think that emailing someone you’ve never met because you like their writing seems like a very earnest thing for a post Gen-Xer to do. I’m glad I was earnest for once.

I sometimes get very embarrassed by earnest-ness. From the synonyms I don’t think that I should:

1. fervent, intent, purposeful, determined, industrious, ambitious. Earnest, resolute, serious, sincere imply having qualities of depth and firmness. Earnest implies having a purpose and being steadily and soberly eager in pursuing it: an earnest student. Resolute adds a quality of determination: resolute in defending the right. Serious implies having depth and a soberness of attitude that contrasts with gaiety and frivolity; it may include the qualities of both earnestness and resolution: serious and thoughtful. Sincere suggests genuineness, trustworthiness, and absence of superficiality: a sincere interest in music.

I think sometimes that being so sincere or fervent about anything seems like a fool’s errand in this cynical age. I admit that sometimes I look down on people who are so, because I feel like they should know better. In some ways I think this is justified, but once again I inspect myself and find an extremism of thought that perplexes me. How did I become so sure of such things? Who decided this if it was not myself?

I just had an abstract association in my head take me from Oscar Wilde to Virginia Woolf. I’m reading Woolf for the first time, and I’m not sure why I haven’t before.  I’m reading Orlando right now, almost through, and it’s terribly charming. However, it has that sense of being so fervent in it’s prose that I’m never sure if the author is winking with us, or if she is sincere. Taken as satire, it’s an engaging work. If I take it in earnest, it’s almost crass in it’s obviousness. However, I realize that “gender studies” was not quite the vast collection of works we now possess in the 1920’s.

I’m also reading Raymond Feist’s Magician: Apprentice at my husband’s behest. So far it’s perfectly enjoyable, for the genre.

There is Pacific Northwest Salmon in the oven, and I must away.

~A.C.

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