Thursday, April 26, 2007

Like Everyone Else

If you want a bleak description of the writing life, you need to turn no further than Norman Mailer and his book, The Spooky Art, to disabuse yourself of the notion that writing is a glamorous profession. "Writing is wonderful when you talk about it. But writing as a daily physical activity is not agreeable. You put on weight; you strain your gut. You're alone, and every day you have to face a blank piece of paper." There's something fundamental about this austerity that suits my temperament. I don't trust a lot of happiness or ease and writing, for all it does provide, does not provide these things. Being alone with my mind is hard work, and it does not become more pleasant. Thankfully, I have never been tempted to use LSD or anything in that drug family. Being sober and charting a course in those garbage-infested waters is sometimes more than I can stand. Having a substance that expands the mind, well, nothing could be more frightening to me. After all, I have swum underwater with a pair of flimsy goggles in Possum Kingdom Lake and the ugly spectral images from that time are enough to put one in the home.

As Mailer points out, starting and ending projects can be fun, but the long in-between, the days of charting a course and not knowing where you'll end up can drive one to the cliff of insanity. I never thought much of that vast middle ground when I started and didn't understand how grueling writing could be. Nobody ever does, of course. I know lots of people who run marathons; I am not one of these people. But I do understand a little bit about how they must feel. The body begins to break down after twenty miles and you do the rest on pure adrenaline. When I was a child, I saw a woman in the Olympics at the end of such a race, and she was crawling to the finish line, her body totally shut down, covered in her own vomit. I never forgot the image even though I still don't know who it was. She was like everyone else who'd run all those miles except that it had cost her a little more.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Write each day without hope or despair." Isak Dineson

Cocktail Hour

Drinking novel suggestion: Such Good Friends Lois Gould

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Thursday!

27 comments:

Paulie Walnuts said...

My on the lam trip with Tony Soprano was kind of spooky in places. For instance, it was really spooky to me that after more than 25 years the FBI would find the body of the first guy Tony murdered. Shit happens. The trip, however, was good. I met a lot of really nice people on the way down to Fla. I guess Tony still thinks I talk too much and sometimes I do. Like the time Tony overheard me talking to an acquaintance while we were headed down to Miami--that really pissed off the old Tone. What really was spooky, though, was the boat we rented for our Marlin fishing. It reminded me of the one we used to kill Big Pussy on. He didn't go too bad for someone who ratted us out to the feds. We toasted each other and then Tony, Silvio and me shot him in the chest, not the face, like he wanted. Luckily, nobody got shot on this trip. Thanks for your support, Michelle.
Best wishes always,
Paulie "Walnuts" Gaultieri

Anonymous said...

More booty!

Aleric of the Goths said...

It's a wonderful and a terrible thing, the blank page. I am here early enough to face the great enemy--or, rather tattoo the great enemy's face with my pattern, my phrasing and my import. Thank you for smoking out the enemy in the first place, m. As you well may notice, I use your daily post like my writing prompt. Even if the morning was fruitless, I'm back latter a basket full of the stuff and a different internal identity to reveal.

Which is what I'm going to have to do right now, as work now calls to me across the ethers, across the strange red light filtering through my world. Everything is shades of red, cast from some kind of lamp onto breathtaking flesh, onto the odd, foil covered floor... no... no that's just this crazy cool photograph playing havoc with my pulse.
Great posting this morning, m. Gotta go to work.

Rodney Dangerfield said...

Looks to me like you've lost more than ten pounds. I'm hot for teacher, if you know what I mean.

Dan said...

Michelle, that's a very interesting analogy between writing and marathon running (and being covered in your own vomit)! :)

That photo, by the way, is awesome!

Pradeep Yoga said...

Ate baking chocolate before race.

Short bus and Special said...

We watched a beaver race in Alaskas!

Parry O'brien said...

I died in a 500 meter freestyle swim race, age 75. I was very competitive my whole life. I died of a heart attack.

Grissom, White and Chaffee said...

We died in the space race.

Louis Pasteur said...

I exhibited artistic proclivity at an early age, but I raced to rid the world of certain diseases.

The Bard said...

I would often race in my writing to please the royals and I was successful. Yet, in retrospect, all the pressure may have shortened my life.

Rosie Ruiz said...

I thought they would never catch me.

Joan Benoit Samuelson said...

I was thrilled when my college friends from Bowdoin cheered me on in my Olympic marathon race

D. Trump said...

Victory!

D. Imus said...

Defeat!

ABC's Wide World of Sports said...

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!

Tim said...

I'm sure it's incredibly difficult to come up with material day in and day out, but you seem to manage it admirably, at least for us, your blog readers. That's something I could never do.

the walking man said...

The austerity of facing the blank page doesn't suit my temperament, as a matter of fact it pisses me off; because that damn blinking cursor or sheer whiteness waiting for me with pen in hand mocks me.

My mind expanded many times with hallucinogenics of every sort (years ago)hears "c'mon dumb ass find the words buried in my blankness"

So it becomes a street fight between my ability to fill that page and the next and the next and that emptiness with words used as guns and knives, to see which of us, the blankness or my words are left standing at the end.

I know if I open a blank page I will have to fill it with something but my fear is that it is not the right something, the spectral something that should have gone into that blank space.

Yet I know in the end that if I put something there I would have at least done my job as a writer and if it doesn't fit for today I can always go back and make it fit somewhere sometime because I was bold enough to accept the challenge of the day.

I found great joy in this post today for some strange reason, Michelle thank you.

peace

Aleric, Bane of Rome said...

got back from work. Everything's reddish haze and mysterious near smiles all morning long.

Back to the post.

I'm that way about LSD, over-wired in all the right and wrong ways to need a dose of Brain expanding/burning acid. I have other smokey, burning bottled demons to drink and do battle with, as well you know, great teacher. My white keychain says just for today. My shirt claims me for the VMI, and I can swear I was there, long ago with the cannons blasting to the devil's appearance on earth. The cadets charging, dieing, and the only terms were our unconditional surrender. Grant's camp was only just over the Blue Ridge. We could smell his cigars, even as we butchered the last pack mule for the morning's super. the sun had risin in the east, but we still had yet to see it move before the curtain fell, as the ground around us erupted in anticipation of our graves. Word came down from Longstreet's man, his stomach open and bloody but terms clenched in hand. Soon after, we lined up in ranks, as though death had a need for aesthetic appeal in it's chosen. Someone vomited as the signal sounded, but he was soon lost we charged in the direction of Avalon, toward the blazing eastern glow that were only homefires burning in sympathy, a counterpart to our bloody song and drums. A small black bird lit down before my vision and into the dark I fell.

Anyway, no need for LSD here.

Work? Yes, got some to go to. I took off my "subs so fast you'll [wanna} freak" shirt and broke out my "Bigger = Better" shirt. I have half a molar that is begging me to die, and my car might take up the offer without me.

Good stuff, m.

Sheila said...

mmm vomit! haha I don't do marathons....

JR's Thumbprints said...

Being alone and facing a blank page doesn't bother me; its all the damn interruptions that drive me crazy.

smokin' joe cocker and his barbarian horde said...

Good morning, you! Always good when we all make it home @the witching hour. Be well, and to everyone else the same.

You have wonderful language and usage, such as "disabuse yourself of..." Hilarious in delivery, too. Of course every joke hides at least some truth. Neurosis hide with the confines of the blank pages. And the solutions to many of them lie deep in the strata. Those good sweet tender painfull and numb spots. The blank page is like snowblindness, natural or coke induced. Stumble through a mile and you might find a perfect circle has been your path.

A catch 22. Being alone with the mind, even one that cannot rest, is what writers all have to contend with. The alert and watchful mind is what we use most in creation of art. Dialogue with others is important to have, and sharing ideas can improve the process, but the base of the creative font is the unresting mind. Glad you do and come out with your art in hand, and maybe you can rest and have chocolate.

And I keep the faith as well.

oh yeah, I was going to make some lame and obvious joke about some joe cocker song about a hat, i can't put my finger on which one because it ain't important, writing is importsnt to you and you don't have to have great pics all the time to do that. Even if someone else sometimes (and even I shouldn't talk, really) thinks you need to, you don't. all of you, that's the best part.

Uncle junior said...

Do you believe this guy?

Get the fuck oudda here.

Tony Soprano said...

Somebody stole my uncle junior.

cocker said...

this is m's blog, uncle wasisnutz. Don't bother me.

e davinci said...

You gotta call this pic "Nuclear Mona Lisa".

davinci's code said...

as its all about that crazy, mysterious near smile.

And I agree with cocker. He sounds like he knows and meant what he says, even if he was obviously drunk at the time.