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
Drinking novel suggestion: Such Good Friends Lois Gould
Benedictions and Maledictions