I can see it clearly: the musty one-bedroom apartment, two floors up, a view of the parking lot out back. There’s a hotplate, mini-fridge, cabinet full of booze, an old wooden frame bed and a handicap accessible bathroom. I’ve seen it many times, and I will be there soon enough.
And I can see this: the back of a limousine, window half down, the warm desert air shuffling in as it begins to get light. There’s a band of pink strip lighting, mini-fridge, cabinet full of booze and a young woman curled up across from me.
The thing is that they’re same thing, just at different speeds.
I wrote all day. And then I wrote more. I went at it too long, and now I feel stupid and stoned. I was out of it, that was certain, all those images and words gone from my head. I was voided. There was nothing.
I remember thinking that the story was important. But now…I don’t know. It seems more a never-ending thing about drugs and sex and redemption too, but all towards death and forgetting, tomorrow and tomorrow and who cares.
My hands looked weird, and I didn’t know where I was. I tried to think if I could still get booze at the store and got vertigo. That was all I had. And I needed something for tomorrow. I knew that. And the day after that. I just didn’t know what.
I’ve read a number of books by writers about writing, and two things have stuck with me over the years. Ian Fleming attested to writing five pages every day before noon so that he could spend the rest of the day swimming and drinking. (I substitute swimming with hiking.)
And Ernest Hemingway was clear in his autobiography, A Moveable Feast, to not drain the brain so that he always had something to start with the next day. In other words, if you go too far one day, you might not get anywhere after that.
There is nothing like shutting up about the writing process – whatever that is – and writing instead, clattering away on who’s knows what but what seems to work right now.
There are pauses between the bursts, leaving me staring dumbly, hands dangling apelike, not thinking about writing but trying to remember the next bit and chase after that before it goes. Yeah, back to that.
I had a dream about a broken-down electric dog, its wiring hanging out, paneling split open, trying to climb out of a muddy hole, pawing and digging and getting nowhere. I didn’t like it.
As much as I might tend to deflect and joke about my current malaise, it’s what depression might be, realizing how pointless everything is. It’s a dark fucking cloud, not knowing what to do, which direction to turn, to carry on or not, giving up and admitting the failure. Drinking to that. It isn’t a good feeling. It’s shit.
And then it’s not. It’s something else. The light. A sound. A thought. Something to do. Not phone games or social media, but the work, things that need to be done. First things first: stuff the wiring back in and get up out of the muck.