... born of brief reliefs from the heat as the fan panders by, energy spurts of teeth-rotting tea in dark-roomed afternoons, of lots of eye rhyme and incandescent slurs against the neighbor children doing their devil-worship beneath my window.
I believe I am jealous of the technical prowess of the latest writer I’ve discovered, slapping back the only way I know how -- by eating chocolate and typing.
That'll learn 'em.
A bit of background and then thoughts on the clichés of writing, maybe art. Though there are many, I’ll stick to the applicable -- with many asides, as much meat stocked on the perimeter of the plate as the middle.
As stated in my previous Doesn’t Get Out Much, I work from home. People give me their apple slices of life; I chew them over and regurgitate. We call that freelance copy-editing.
When I’m done editing for the day, I meander to the edge of the white space at the bottom of this page -- and every page like it -- and hang from the last loops and whorls of the a's and q's, the rare bottom bars of the z's, stretching them down as far as I can.
I’ve been remarkably successful at this of late, discovering how much easier it is to unroll a regular story of woes than a literary work with themes. It goes quickly.
Literary stories, they sneer -- Boring garbage! Maybe. But not as easy to write. Layers, my friends, layers, interconnected like a cat’s cradle. Pinch the wrong damn strings and it all unfurls into a useless yarn.
Eat my puns, better technical writer.
Yet I know it’s not healthy. It's more a life for a pupa than a person.
In fact, I left my house this evening, needing supplies to feed my keyboard, and I was no beautiful butterfly emerging from a cocoon. More like a mole blinking in the sunlight after a long hibernation.
Strolling to the store, nothing seemed real to me -- not the leather-clad lady with her bare midriff and peanut-shaped body buying cigarettes -- not the wobbly trees of Bannerman park -- not the August cool-down of the evenings on my arms. I could have closed my eyes and forgotten it all.
It is a cliché of art that the artist gets so wrapped up in their created work that the created work seems more real than the world -- enough bad science fiction has played with the concept that I mentally throw popcorn at the idea when it pops up.
And, initially, I laughed at myself. I certainly didn't want to stumble myself by giving that cliche any leeway.
(A bit of a digression)
When I used to merely write – often only with the simple goal of being able to esteem myself a writer one day – the good ol' days -- the naive ol' days -- I used to happily close my writing sessions with finality – DONE.
Laptop shut with a satisfying click, there was a succinct severing of ties. The next morning, I’d pick up where I left off.
These days, being done with writing for the day means the start of making content. No fulfilling click signalling a return to the world.
Not as simple as the mere act of writing. I can do math; that doesn’t make me a mathematician.
This is the puzzling cycle of pablum prescribed to fledgling writers these days. More-experienced writers, perhaps as a joke, slip them a piece of paper with instructions: ‘How to be a writer: Step One: make content. Step Two: Rejoice in the success of your content.'
Unfortunately, the majority of content makers misconstrue these instructions as Outdo even the most vexing spambots in the proliferation of your content! Really belt it out there! Loud and proud!
Usually, the recipients of a content-maker’s devotions to his promotions are other content-makers, which then leads to reciprocation, and escalation, until it’s all stirring together in a whirligig of droning voices and canned laughter, like the soundtrack to an old Hitchcock movie.
Any reader who accidentally gets sucked into the maelstrom swears never to go anywhere near it ever again….
End of Digression
Of course, I must point out that I am the worst kind of hypocrite. Because what’s the first thing I’m going to do once I’ve applied the spit-polish to this piece? That’s right, I’m going to post it. I’m going to make it into content. And I’ll be content if someone were to read it.
Marvel at my perspicacity and ironic outrage.
Actually, I’m going to go with the ungrammatical word, ‘realer,’ here. Because it’s not my supposition that the real world seems irreal to the artist. It’s that the created world seems real-er.
Walking back from the store, not allowing myself to accept the cliché that a construct of my mind could seem realer than what I was actually seeing, perhaps I laughed a little too quickly. Often, I aim for the median course when the sacrifice of aiming high without a safety net (Being in the arts, actually doing art) gets to feel costly on a relatable level (No money, aging without palpable success).
Because, not long after, I had a very interesting moment.
It was but a pip, a tenth of a second. Crossing the road, I looked down the street. The row houses were colourful and interesting, every postcard of Newfoundland that’s not a whale or a puffin exemplified. I saw them lined up like drunken friends leaning against one another, and I recreated them.
By that, I mean, in my head I took a snapshot of them, only briefly, and I then brought that snapshot very near to me and I explored it. In a flash, I crawled all over the outsides of those buildings, feeling the gritty splintering of the wood, the bumps and the striations. I flew through the houses, circling the occupants like an intruding wasp, then shrank myself down to ant-size and stared up at the houses, like monoliths, getting in close to see the chips in the paint on their front doors, grass growing up through cracks in the concrete.
In that moment, the houses I had created with my snapshot were realer for me than the houses that existed in the world.
I don’t know who lives in the real houses, but if I want a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses to live in my created snapshot house, until I actually go and ring the doorbell for myself and the real-life tenants answer the door to become a part of my external reality, that’s who lives there.
Similarly, the landscapes I've created recently with my shut-in literary splurging -- and which consume most of my mental idling -- have this sort of invaded property about them. I can concoct histories for every stone, consecrate closets and cupboards with meaning, switch the semblance of rooms in an instant.
The people that inhabit them, I can crawl inside their ears if I want, or tell you what they had for breakfast.
When they were nine.
I have no external wireframe for the reality houses, but possess a solid blueprint of the fantasy down to a cellular level. The created is realer than the blank.
Most clichés are true to some extent. Applicable to real life. Many of them, we reject only because past popular movements have denounced them. That doesn’t make them false.
The irony is, I'm denying my own perceptions because I’m adhering to a structure of behavior that our current culture says is preferable ...
... when, as people, we make the constructs of our heads realer to us than what we see in the world all the time.
Ask any daydreamer. Any political idealist. Any naïve mother. Ask any racist.
I’m just making a home inside mine, and inviting people over for popcorn.