I try to think about who I am and what I know, but I don’t know what any of that means. It’s a thing off in the distance, someplace that I thought I might have been, even convinced myself of that, and have now lost.
I know what I want to be. No, that’s a lie too. Even if I said that I knew what I want, or that I thought that I knew that, I wouldn’t. The more I think that I know the who and what, the more I’m further from it because I think that. It’s a façade.
Confidence is the thing, believing in those lies is what makes you that you in you. The deeper you get, the further you are from the same. A gosh-darned paradox!
And so…something else. Drugs and whores! No confusion there. Or all confusion. Signs of it all gone awry. At least it’s not a façade. Or the façade of facades. Good copy anyway.
I lent her my car and then needed it to go out to the graduation. We drove together and kissed goodbye.
I ended up in a misshapen entourage of graduates as they exited the cathedral and watched them make a mockery of decorum and distancing protocols. They were having fun and the school had to let it all go.
They took me along, and I should have left at my first opportunity, but I’ve always been told it’s a free world, and so I stayed until I had had enough of my mistakes.
The judge accepted all of this, as did my counsel. But not me. I think about what happened and what could have been.
I feel like I know something now, something with clarity. Or just not so lost. Might have even got somewhere. Probably not. But I feel like that.
I’ve never known who the hell I am, and now I’m thinking that I just might. I am a white male, and an older one at that. But that’s not it. I’m not even an asshole, like so many people have said. I know that’s just them being lost and new.
I have come to somewhere and I know something about that. It’s not much but it feels like it might be something. I just hope that I can sell and then get that Malibu estate, be surrounded by beautiful people and complain about the masses.
Reviewing my notes for the Young Chronicles section of this blog reminds me of how little I had a sense of who I was as a young man. More to the point, it makes me realize how much I remain the same person. My sense of self lost in mist.
I am a writer. I know that. I’ve been writing for 37 years – novel after screenplay after novel – but remain unpublished. I’ve also taught for 22 years and enjoyed that. But I feel more the actor on that stage. I do not belong there, as administrations remind me again and again.
10,000 miles and 110 different rides later, I can’t say I found anything much but laziness and fear. Not to say that I didn’t try. I stayed at Cavendish Beach in Prince Edward Island, buying enough peanut butter, jam, bread and juice for three days and thinking, “Okay, I’m going to really dig into self-reflection now.”
But I didn’t. I just read, wrote nonsense and walked around, counting down until I could eat another sandwich and have another juice. I was marking time, nothing more.
This blog has been effective at turning over the rocks from my childhood, dreams and half-realized works. The Young Chronicles in particular has been telling as it reveals my lack of identity; I distinctly remember having clarity when I was eight years old and then none on my hitchhiking trip eleven years later.
I was always on edge, unsure of where I was, scared to camp alone, scared on the side of the road, scared of riding in stranger’s cars. I wanted to be somewhere else and, when I got there, somewhere else again.
I want to write like music. I want to write in a sustained sound. I want to write in a loop that goes around, on and on. I want to write with never-ending tension. I want to write like the opening of a door, the scuffle of feet, the distant sound of something coming soon.
I want to write like I dream and see my mother, looking young and sharp, in the car with me to the airport, our bags overflowing out the back, a starship flier picking us up before we even get there, continents vanishing in steam.
I want to write like it was left unsaid, like eyes see. I want to write in a burrow, like roots to rocks. I want to write words that mean something else in their unconscious self.
The thing about writing is that it draws from nebulous things that live in my head – memories, feelings, images and the words that put those together. But the real thing is they’re not actually things, but unthings, abstract nothing things swirled into a cloud of something, a story as it were, not building blocks but protons and ions, effervescence and frequencies, half like dark matter, a presence that can only be detected by its influence on other things.
My current project, Anori, has the following scene: Dee is driven by her ex-husband Tommy from Newfoundland back to NYC. The scene used to feature Dee’s Uncle Ralph; however the book needed less of Uncle Ralph and more of Tommy. The scene also requires a switch in scene, from California to Maine. The thematic elements will remain (distance from someone once loved) as well as key images, but the voice and setting need a 180 degree shift. And so the scene becomes a mangled corpse that has to be picked.
I could kill it all, wipe the slate clean, but I don’t want to do that. The dark matter of the old scene has an unthing I want to preserve. And scorched earth is stupid. Other things were hacked out. There is no more Dodgers game, no more sexy forest ranger, and no more porno shoot in the Hollywood Hills. (sigh)
I now have Dee and Tommy, still in love, but incompatible, stopping and starting in their conversation, exposing their history and feelings, afraid of saying anything to hurt the other but keen to let the other know what they still mean. There is much to mine from my own life here, long drives with things unsaid, guilt and pain and regret. This is the magic of the process, knowing the characters and direction and now searching out where it is they say what needs to be said.