It wasn’t just the flubbed kiss with Peach; I had a miserable record with girls throughout my teenage years. I actually ran away from a girl at a high school dance, fearing mockery and embarrassment. A year later, I did manage to dance with a girl from Branksome School but flubbed the phone call afterwards with talk of love.
That was my thing, to harp on about love and existence and hope they might think of me as poetic. It didn’t work on anyone – not Lori McClennan, Karen Spafford nor Tanis Gravenor – because I was sophomoric and stupid.
A spark is needed to start writing. And the trick is to allow that thing to turn into something substantial before getting at it. This can’t be forced or ignored. It’s like a cat. She pretends she doesn’t want to interact, but she does.
You just have to wait, even when she is sitting there. She needs to be coddled. Oh, no, not coddled! My mistake. That can’t be said, even thought. Appreciated. That’s the word. Appreciated.
Play with her. Stroke her face and sides. She will go with that. And then it’s great fun and games, moving ahead like it was nothing at all. Why weren’t we always here? Simple as that? And then she is gone, quick as it started, and it’s a matter of waiting for another round
Profound understanding is the goal in my writing. To share that with the reader. More simply stated, this might be called empathy. More thoughtfully stated, Saul Bellow put it like this: Only art penetrates what pride, passion, intelligence and habit erect in all sides – the seeming realities of the world. There is another reality, the genuine one, which we lose sight of. This other reality is always sending us hints, which without art, we cannot receive.
It’s not about thinking a thought, but feeling a thought. These are the moments that all of us have which transcend description, indelible moments that mark our existence. I was nine years old the first time I saw the palm trees of Florida out of my plane window. It wasn’t just being in the plane for the first time or seeing the lush green after leaving icy Canada; it was something more. It was magic. It was being transported to a place of dreams.
Years later, after an arduous camping trip on Brooks Peninsula, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, we were ferried back in a small boat through heavy wind and weather. The young man piloting the boat had lost sight of an important landmark, a massive rock which lurked beneath the surface. Just as he stood and wondered aloud, “Where is it?”, we rode slid into a trough and the massive boulder appeared, menacing, dripping thick algae, just behind the boat. The young man was speechless. A moment earlier and we would have capsized and drowned.
I vividly recall the death of my cat, Popo as well as seeing Aguirre Wrath of God the first time on a tiny black and white television. I don’t just remember these things. It is well beyond that. And more profoundly, because it is all in my head, I remember standing alone in a dark Paris apartment the moment I realized that a character I planned to kill off, Chantal Deschampes, decided that she would not leave the book.
She not only survived to the very end of The Sacred Whore, she even made a more recent appearance in Aqaara, Part Two of The Cx Trilogy. I realized that she was not a fictional character but a spirit that had something to say. That was when I knew I wrote.