Martin Scorsese’s Pretend It’s a City features Fran Lebowitz declaiming on her writerly life, stating that no writer enjoys writing. Which makes me think that I am no writer because I do, enjoy writing that is. And then there is Raymond Carver, who exposed the secrets of his life with honesty and makes me realize that I’ve never come close to that.
My modus operandi has been the sensational subjects – prostitutes, 9/11 and outer space – which I’ve consumed through the media. I feel unglued and half done. I want to think again and write something that people will read and think, “What a guy!” Yes, I need to get a grip
Writing is a misery because the magic can be there, perfect and exact, and then it’s gone. One moment every word is right there, waiting to be transcribed, every detail noted, every moment caught, all right there. And then it’s all gone. To have it and then not have it, back and forth, in and out, like a lunatic in the asylum. And worse than that, much worse, to find that the very next day, all the writing that seemed so perfect and exact is in fact inept crap.
Maybe not inept crap as much as undeveloped sophomoric shit. Or is that just the same thing? Perhaps it’s not a misery as much as a mental disease, that of schizophrenia. And it isn’t just the mirror-world thinking, never knowing when it’s the backwards world or not. The wonder of writing is getting into that world, living there, and hence not being here. It makes simple conversation next to impossible. I mean, you aren’t even you. You’re worse than a gutted actor. You’re a nothing, a driveling idiot.
You’re left outside, staring at things, not even looking at them. And then, in time, there’s something to notice, to wonder what it might mean and how it could be used, how it might mean something in a story. It begins again, when the idea of writing the thing goes around and around and gets louder and then quieter and louder again, and the words are unintelligible and wild, pure and magical like that.
Those words of not knowing anything and will never understand, even it could be sorted, actually with the sorting making it worse, farther from the goal, because even with the sense of knowing, it’s nothing more than liking booze and sex, realizing there is nothing smarter than that. Yeah, that’s the book I’m thinking about now. A big seller that.
The thing is that you are here, simply and wildly so, what the beat guys said, that raw repetitive thing. You think you belong here and you do. You came to this place and were ready for it or not at all. On the edge of knowing. That is all there could possibly be. Almost there. Virile. All of that in you. One long impossible note.
And you think there should be more – because in all of that might be ahead and has been seen by you, by you!, the sheer cliffs, the little kids, everything tiny, remembering a mistake, lost, incredibly, delightfully so, and not in a memory, not a precise known thing, cherished, forgotten, that thing so exquisite as it must be known, there, waiting – and it isn’t.
And so there is that, the king of the universe in the hallway, flames coming out like they should, no understanding for the what or why of it, that nightmare you slip into and live in, there, acting like you are half sleep and probably are. And how did you get to that? Meandering, fine and easy. That is what you say and almost think at the end of it.