Once Upon a New Year's Day
Well, the first habit to acquire is the habit of writing. To follow Steven’s command at the outset of this journal and write it all – the real and the imaginary. Write descriptions, conversations, character sketches, imagination, ruminations. Find the means of expression. Perhaps my first and foremost resolution, then, is to become a writer.
I wonder what will happen next to get in my way. Don’t know why I keep insisting on wanting to write. Nobody gives a shit. Mike Rollins is playing his flute. Everyone can hear that he is good and they will bend over backward to see to it that he is enabled to keep on playing. There are painting on the wall by artist friends – everyone can see that they are artists. I was looking over journal entries at the front of this and wanted to read some of it to Paris – not the personal stuff – just descriptions. He refused to hear it. He doesn’t read other people’s stuff, or even listen to it. He’ll look at other people’s paintings or listen to other people’s music – but writing is an imposition or an intrusion.
I am so mentally lazy, it’s pathetic. I have image on image in my head that encompass years and years of experiences and insights and on and on but writing them down takes so much concentration. I really want to visualize it all and zap it as is onto the page. The sheer physical act of writing is tedious – one simple little event, a glance around between breaths, can take pages to describe.
An impossible enterprise, this. Writing, writing, writing the story of an odyssey of one’s own, as if it has some cosmic importance. I almost wish I had a more abstract mind – to create some abstract, impersonal art that doesn’t expose me, that doesn’t take liberties with my friends, that doesn’t turn the people I meet into elements of my own personal mythology, characters to be delineated and described, like landscape; pieces of the puzzle I am constructing of human history, putting words in their mouths that perhaps they would not choose to say, taking liberties with their lives and actions to serve my own seeking purpose. Or perhaps all artists do this and that we are less aware of it because we accept the final product as an abstraction. Or perhaps they have more gall – or balls. There’s something to that statement. All these clichés we throw around. Sometimes I think I’m looking for the root of the clichés. I certainly have no balls.
I seemed to have reached a nadir of sorts: I am closed in, locked up, all my writing is stillborn, shackled by the feeling that there is nothing worth saying, no point in saying any of it.
The first handwritten pages of The Year of the Crow, much of which was retained for the final copy, self-published in 2011:
The crows were flying low over the rooftops, perching on the eaves and rising again to circle over the city, cruising down streets and alleyways, in anticipation of carrion to come. The country lay in darkness; even in the light of day, the darkness came down and settled in the eyes of the people and in the brilliant sunshine, people would say, “A little hazy, don’t you think?” The light had gone. No one knew where. No one seemed to miss it.
Yet the skies were bright and clear, as they had not always been not so long ago. It was the answering light that was missing, the light from eyes that smiled back upon the world, eyes that laughed with delight at a glimpse of sun on water as at some delicious secret. In fact, people who still emitted light, those who still saw wonder and hope and excitement in the tag ends of civilization, were considered suspect, and some were locked up as mad.
At least one mad woman remained at large on this dark sunny day