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.



9 Responses to Courage

  1. I read this the other day:
    “The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.” – MARGARET ATWOOD

  2. That’s perfection. And there are as many ways to write of writing as there are writers. For every Margaret Atwood, there is a Joan Didion who claims that she writes ONLY for readers in addition to writing so that we live.ieel 30

  3. My three words and the truth are: You are there.

    My only question: Why can’t you see what’s so apparent to so many of us? It’s no less writing if it’s in Big Ring Circus than in an indie book store, is it?

  4. So many things to say… I wrote songs for years and paraded them in front of worn out cafe crowds with just my guitar and voice. For the first two yrs I was so frustrated; I couldn’t make it sound like it did in my living room. I would come home nearly in tears. Slowly, I gained the kind of confidence that knows there’s no way tro know what will happen on stage, but whatever it is, I can handle it.

    My old man liked to quote Hemingway: “A real writer writes on a bad day.”