More than once in my life I have said to myself, “That’s it. It is time to get serious about writing.’ I have canceled the cable, bought ink for the printer, and planted a bottle of scotch at 2′ O’clock at my writing station. Passport, Glenfiddich, Lagavulin,Laphroaig, Oban, Macallan, Highland Park, Dalwhinnie, and the ubiquitous Johnny Walker in all hues.
I have tried cigarettes as a writing aid also, and more important than the tobacco, is the right ashtray, it’s proximity to a window, and the correct relative humidity to allow the smoke to wander slowly across the room lit in just the right fashion by the setting evening sun.
I have trusted a quilted flannel shirt from Wal-mart to be my muse, a broken alarm clock given to me by a friend– set to the exact time of our parting for separate paths, a most profound and priceless gift. Tuques, toboggans, stump socks, and watch caps have covered my balding to balded head as I courted inspiration at IBM Selectrics, Apple IIC’s and E’s, Brothers word processors lugged from month-to-month apartments in cities and towns, from mom’s house to dad’s.
I have scribbled on yellow legal pads and in so many incomplete journals I know that a 5×7 leather-bound is more of a non-fiction thing and a black 81/2 x 11 sketchbook is for poetry. I have a wooden trunk from Haiti, intricately carved and deep enough for a body, full of incomplete stories and trying too hard.
I have at times plagiarized the voices of Henry Miller, Harry Crews, Stetson Kennedy, Tom Wolfe, J.D. Salinger, Hunter S. Thompson, Jon Krakauer, Roald Dahl, Toni Morrison, and every other author I have read and admired. Each of those words arrived on the page DOA, flat cold things.
What I have learned from all of this is nothing. Every trick and and totem is pointless. The only thing I know is that it’s like Robert Zimmerman said, all you need are three words and the truth.
I don’t know.
I am afraid.
I could not.
I will try.
I was there.