Making It

by Lisa Donovan

There are times in everyone’s life, I think, when they question if the path they are on is the right one.  Having a calling in life - like being an artist, a teacher, a writer or anything of the sort - begins to dictate to you how you live and what you strive for.  It’s hard to say that we aren’t getting there. Personally, I am much closer now that I was a year ago - but there are still days when I wonder why I just don’t give up and try to live a simple and calm life instead of the one that I was born unto.  Some days my husband and I will look at each other and wish that the urge to create would subside - it is, beautifully, out of our control though.  So, when I get exhausted and feel like the ideas in my head are taking me nowhere, I become elated to read things like todays Writer’s Almanac

It was on this day in 1955 that Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita was first published (books by this author). It’s the story of Humbert Humbert, a European who falls in love with a twelve-year-old American girl.

Nabokov started thinking about the novel when he was still a new immigrant to the United States, struggling to support his wife and son as a professor of Russian and English literature. He began working seriously in the summer of 1951, while he and his wife drove to Colorado in their Oldsmobile station wagon. He said he loved writing in the car because it was the quietest place in America. The following winter, he began doing research on young girls, traveling on city buses to learn current slang, writing down popular song titles and phrases from teen magazines and Girl Scout manuals. As he grew more and more excited about the book, he was miserable that he had to do anything else. He wrote to his friend, Edmund Wilson, “I am sick of teaching, I am sick of teaching, I am sick of teaching.”

He finished the novel in 1953, but when he sent the draft to friends, most of them were horrified, and told him that he could never publish it. It was rejected by all the major publishing houses in the United States, so he finally had it brought out anonymously in France by a publisher who specialized in pornography. He played around with different titles, including “The Kingdom by the Sea,” but in the end the novel was called Lolita (1955). He later said that the novel was, in part, about his love affair with the English language.

After a few years of controversy, it was published in the United States in 1958, and went on to become a best-seller and a movie. Nabokov had put off writing it for so many years partly because he was afraid that it wouldn’t make any money, but in the end it was the success of Lolita that allowed him to retire from teaching. He moved with his wife to Switzerland and spent the rest of his life writing novels in the top floor of a luxurious hotel.

I don’t suspect I will ever find myself atop a fancy hotel in the Alps writing my days away, but there is hope in hearing something like this.  And, sometimes, it’s that thread of hope that urges one to become.

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 18th, 2006 at 9:06 am and is filed under Uncategorized, Daily Living, Faith, Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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