Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SERIOUS non-writing

So, I spent part of the day breaking the sidewalk in front of our house into chunks, armed with my trusty sledgehammer “Bess” (named after Harry Truman's wife, for reasons I cannot divulge, or remember) and a gardening tool called a Mutt. Then I ate a delicious sandwich for lunch, took care of a couple of personal items, paid my cell phone bill, read the entire blogosphere, checked out a couple of things my girlfriend sent me in emails, almost took a shower, but instead ended up doing the dishes in the nude-- an idea I so DID NOT get from Cosmo, OK, so just stop even thinking that. And now, finally, I find myself writing this, the all-important second blog post, the one that has to keep you people engaged to the same level if not higher as the previous efflorescence of my creative genius did, and asking myself the question, what will I do in order to not write. The answer, I believe , is anything and everything.
The list above is a pretty good guide to how serious I am about not writing. In fact, there are very few things I work harder at. But still, some literary output manages to dribble its way out. You'll just have to trust me that soon that will be gone for good, and that this place will stand like an abandoned gas station in the desert, a stylish ruin from a more hopeful time. Vintage candy racks will line the dusty counter, a premise sitting there just waiting to be used, as though the “writer” had just stepped away for a cup of coffee and a swallow of laudanum, and had been waylaid in his return, perhaps by angry coyotes (hmm, coyote wrestling, must remember to try that one the next time inspiration is striking.) Yet somehow, I keep crawling back to the word processor, (parenthetically again, is there any worse term for a writing program than “word processor”? Last I looked, which was just milliseconds ago, I'm the one doing all the word processing here. All the program does is meekly ask permission to complete an odd word here and there incorrectly, and then save the file to somewhere it can't be found. Which makes the program just like a subpar temp, but not quite as cheap.) like Charlie Brown to the football, drunkenly braying for my lady Literature to take me back, that things will be different now, I'm ready to dance with her and only her, no more coyote wrestling, nude kitchen chores, whatever. And she takes me back, the foolish good-hearted woman, because she's a concept, not a person, and the only heart I've been breaking is my own.
Because I have more words than Webster, more words than Oxford Unabridged, a great near -Joycean harvest of syllables, piled on the syllabus, careening its way to market, a steaming slab of fatback Funk and Wagnalls just waiting to be got on the goodfoot, if you know what I'm talking about, and I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I am talking and that's the point. I have always loved words and language-- too much even when I was a kid. I couldn't do baby talk, I waited till I could make my own sentences . I am meant to string words together, and send them up like multicolored box kites dancing in the firmament of ideas. When I found words I felt like Paganini with his Amati, Mondrian with his grid, Rodney Dangerfield with his self-deprecation. I was in my element. So where the hell have I been, and why haven't you heard of me, and I'm from Missouri and you're gonna have to show me.
I know, I know, I get this a lot. Mostly from myself. And I have no answer, still, for why I became the most serious non-writer I know. Perfectionism, depression, erectile dysfunction, seasonal affective disorder, the dog ate it-- you name it. Maybe I just can't resist a sidewalk that needs to be smashed. There is more to life than writing-- in fact, the more life one lives, the more one has to work with, in theory. All I have to go on is theory. And I have wrestled, and pulled, and dragged, and spat, and indeed hacked my way through some very difficult lies in and near the stream of consciousness, to get to this point. Which is a start. And, thankfully, nobody cares where one starts, it's all about where one ends up. Afterwards, if anything comes of this, they can scour my notebooks, dinner napkins, and credit card envelopes for the swamp that gave rise to this howling banshee. And for the first time in along time, I will shut up. Because there is no answer to the question “Where did this come from?”. There is writing and there is not writing. One can do a lot of the latter and still find time for the former.

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