“At the heart of every creation is a need to connect, even if it is to connect to no one in silent defiance or a curious desperation. The inner world is even more immense than the measured world we have created out of wants, hunger, and sometimes, need. Every word marks an act of creation, an intent, and often not a studied intent.”
When it came down to writing, it came to the toilet seat. She had no idea why, but images, concepts, lyrical passages flowed in torrents through her.
What magic the toilet seat?
It didn’t happen on the bus—with the furtive judgmental stares. She didn’t flow in the library—where stifled coughs emanated from carrels and sentinel towers of books. She didn’t flow anyplace else at home: not her desk (she regretted choosing the smaller city-sized one) or at the dining table (where all thoughts invariably siphoned back to the weight-related remarks from father—or “what about the kids in …” [your choice of developing 1980’s nation here]).
Every other space was an obstacle; the atmosphere an impediment; the surface too angular. It was only here on the toilet seat from 4:00 to 4:30 every morning, where the dreams unspooled again vividly, each one remembered in the finest detail (see that glint of moonlight on the shards of glass?)—it was on the toilet where imagined conversations wrote themselves, where she was thee hypnopompic amenuensis. Here all creation and worlds unimagined resolved themselves in full dimensions.
There were erasures to make. He made the erasures. There were no complaints. The work was done. He moved on. When more erasures were required, he made those; and in this manner his work was accomplished, and he continued erasing. This is how it was to be alive then. This is what it meant to finish. Whatever you take from this—you must know this—this was only one of many ways of moving through life. There were alternative ways of working, and of moving through life. That much is assumed. That much is certain. When he needed more erasures, he did this:
What I’m Reading:
“So write for yourself. If yourself is Stephen King or Colleen Hoover, congratulations. You’ll have millions of readers. That’s publishing and reading and the market. If yourself is an audience of one, congratulations are also in order. In the end, that’s what writing is really about—finding your vision and your voice, and being true to them.”
“We are not apparent in the cultural streams that establish and define American thought, art, and culture. We are not present at the table, though we appear perpetually at the table every Thanksgiving in stories told to our children in educational institutions across the country. But Natives were not there at that table. There was no table. Their heads were on stakes giving warning around the newly constructed towns by the settlers, built on Native lands.
These false narratives of Native peoples continue a story of cultural genocide.”
— Joy Harjo / Catching the Light
“I was born—don’t know the hour— Slapped on the ass And handed over crying To someone many years dead In a country no longer on a map…”
— Charles Simic / “Come Closer and Listen”
“–I dreamt I went to the doctor’s and she gave me eight minutes to live. I’d been sitting in the fucking waiting room half an hour.
(A long silence.)”
— Sarah Kane / 4.48 Psychosis
“There’s an undeniable chimp-with-a-chainsaw horrified fascination in watching him try to handle it (and, one hopes, an enduring and salutary proof of the fact that billionaires are not geniuses), but so far he has managed to turn an imperfect communications system into a dismal swamp.”
— Bill McKibben / “Organizing After Twitter” / Substack Newsletter
“Here’s the thing about writing novels, or writing anything, that should be hopeful. You can do it with teachers and classes and peers, if you need mentorship and encouragement. But you can also do it all by yourself. In the end, you do it all by yourself anyway. In the lonely hours (and writing is probably 90 to 99% lonely hours) it’s all you. Outside of having others read your work—and the business of publishing, which you shouldn’t be thinking about—all it takes to be a writer, day after day, even if you’re successful, is this:
Apologia Sine Qua…Compos Mentis in Capitalist Perdition
There’s an app for that — it tells me I once lost a corgi and I’ve now lost a fire extinguisher. Then, there’s an app for that — which tells me to fall in love with writing. Not because of the money or headlines I’d make, or the critical acclaim, or the twittokgramface-o-sphere / housewife-o-idol-talentdancing places I’d go, but because without it— this writing benediction-affliction — I’d feel bereft, bereaved, and aggrieved. And so I do this, because a filmmaker makes films; because a painter paints; because a writer writes. Because divine discontent. Not for the cash prizes, the 30-under-30’s or 5-over-50’s, the grant, the convocation to retreat, the fellowship, or cameo on the pixilated-tripe-du-jour for a shot of heebie-skeevy rope-a-dope… but just because this is this. Feels good. Like a permeable biological membrane to a transport protein. Huh? Because art is a way of passing through life… duh!
What I’m Reading:
“Every time I open my lips I flood the void with clouds”
Pluot of Complacency (from TheLost Epiphanies of Melodramas Undone Compilation)
You son of a—
What’s a compliant pluot of complacency mean?!
Is that an insult, a compliment? It doesn’t feel like it is. And what’s with leaving me this lone clue—this stained and forlorn note. What gives? Where are you? Have you run off to hike your long distance trail again? Were you not going to call me again for a couple of weeks, then suddenly call from Hot Springs, North Carolina? And what of the kids? The dogs? The vegetable garden? The flower beds?
So I’m a compliant pluot of complacency, huh? Well, suck on this, squarehead! I’m gonna’ break every bit of vinyl in this room—this mausoleum to your youth—and I’m gonna’ start with these Scraping Foetus off the Wheel records. I’ll be damned if I listen to one of those platters of skeevies again. And these Throbbing Gristle records … first I’m taking a hammer to those and then into the wood chipper. And those Coil, Psychic TV, and Swans records—some white gas from your hiking stove and they’re the monticule of your funeral pyre I’m burning your played-out effigy over.
Don’t bother calling. I’m off with the kids and dogs to Burning Man. Damn the house, the rutabagas, the dahlias and calendula. Hoist this on your petard … petunia-brain!
What I’m Reading:
“Nowadays you guys settle for a couch By a soporific color cable t.v. set Instead of any arc of love…”
— Bernadette Mayer / “[Sonnet] You jerk you didn’t call me up”