The Writing Kind

“The sensual novelist and his admirer, are beings of depraved appetites and sickly imaginations, who having learnt the art of self-tormenting, are diligently and zealously employed in creating an imaginary world, which they can never inhabit, only to make the real world, with which they must necessarily be conversant, gloomy and insupportable.”

Patrick Brontë’s children had the run of his books and must have read these words often, but no group of young people ever took less heed of such a warning.

–From Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart, Claire Harman

Sometimes I wake up before the sun does to satisfy this craving. I shuffle on aching bones that ache for no reason other than holding up my person to the coffee machine. I say machine because it is not the simple device the coffee maker is. Insert cup under spit, deposit cup of grounds on top of needle, pull lever to enact piercing and scalding processes. Acquire sweet treat if one has been hunted in the wilderness and brought back home on recent scavenging trip. No, these are not the cravings this beast has woken at this ungodly hour to satiate.

I shuffle back to office and sit down. Squirm in chair. Aching bones and all. Open blinds because sometimes our kind like to feel connected to the great outdoors. Shut blinds. Dawn is too bright.

The images of a recent dream dance a quadrille in my mind’s eye: a formal dining room resplendent with light from a three-sided bay window; the room occupied by a crudely made dining room table circa 1970 at which nobody sits; outside the window were rose bushes, not all the picture of health, some new blooms, some leaves snail-bitten, but the coral pink of their petals struck the eye amid the shaded garden vista.

Return to the now. Sometimes it’s not even my own inner voice demanding it, but that of them, those clamorous beings in my head. Mind torn between sickly leaves and murmuring voices caressing my brain, I turn back to the work at hand. I do not know where to begin. So I just open a door. Sometimes the words that satisfy the craving sputter out as though from the irked coffee machine. Sometimes they pour out as easy and rich as cream.

Sometimes the craving is fixed at night over coffee again, of course, and often a mischievous cigarette. The sounds of Saturday night surround us like the rings around Saturn–the high school band’s metronome, the laughter of unseen people, a distant siren. As massive and exclusive as our inner worlds are, we cannot seem to shake the rest off the world. But the company, the indulgence of nicotine and caffeine, again, are not the primary cravings sought at this assembly.

It is the build up of weeks in planning, the preparation, the carefully laid stonework and mortar of verb, noun, and article. The layering of tone, character, and story. It is of like minds meeting like, kinfolk in this art sitting down with me on the other end of the screen before the sun rises, or in a patio chair across from me at the local coffee shop until midnight. It is solitude, as well. It is living two lives: the external, full of aching sorrow, vivid joy, and twisting nostalgia; and the mind’s life, full of aching sorrow, vivid joy, and twisting nostalgia.

For the writing kind, this craving is necessary.

Why I Love Fall

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I’ve been in such a good mood lately that I’m weirding myself out. I’m stopping to enjoy things I already like even more. Like the comforting sound of a new audio book (The Night Swimmer is so attuned for this weather), revisiting a favorite classic read (the tales of Edgar Allan Poe), the warm, cuddly feeling of needing a blanket while watching a movie on the couch or reading outside at night, and the mingling of hot coffee and sweet pastry. So what makes me love these things even more than I already do? The title did not deceive you—fall. Fall is why I can appreciate these luxuries and little treats to a higher degree. It’s like the antithesis of seasonal depression.

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday as a kid. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost some of the holiday spirit but the love of all things spooky remains, and more specifically, my love of the subtle shift in the weather this time of year, first in the dead of evening, and then, that dropping temperature creeps outward from the deepest night like an ink spill until it finally reaches the day to dampen our raging summer sun.

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I hope to remind you all to stop and appreciate the things that make fall wonderful. Here are a few reasons I love fall. Please leave your reasons in the comments!

I love the way fall makes me happy to wake up in the morning, the way it sates that feeling I’ve had all summer, an inexplicable yearning.

I love the smell and chill in the air. I don’t even mind the little bit of frizz in my hair (okay, a lot of frizz, and I do kind of mind).

I love fall-scented candles of cinnamon and pumpkin spice, and warm, hearty meals with names that end in surprise.

I love the impending month of letting all fears go in a sprint to 50,000 words and going, perhaps, a little insane.

I love breathing in scents of rain, and after rain, and before rain.

I love reading on the porch at dusk or dawn, long sleeves brushing arms, and soft scarves made of yarn.

I love the changing of the leaves—seasonal barometers—from green to red, yellow, and brown, and driving with the windows down.

I love hot cocoa, hot tea, and all manner of toasty treats in between. Apparently, everything I love about fall revolves around eating. So be it.

 

Here are some other awesome fall and Halloween related blog posts. A little something for everyone, I’m sure.

Parallelism and Other Matters of the Mind

Had a dream about a little boy. I was looking out a window. It was snowing, so when I saw the blood shooting out of this boy’s chest, the color contrast itself was the most startling. Once outside, I pulled the child’s shirt back to find a flower-shaped wound, burned around the edges of the gaping hole, like a javelin was dipped in acid and stuck through from the back. I called for help and tried to staunch the bleeding. You hear of people being all noble and patient in moments like that—level-headed and calm. Well, I wasn’t. I was pretty goddamn distraught that this kid was bleeding all over the place. Sometimes I amuse myself by looking up dream meanings. Sometimes I actually do it to find meaning. Whether for amusement or answers: saving a child in one’s dreams signifies an attempt to save a part of oneself that’s being destroyed.

I wake up and drink cup after cup of black coffee. I love the high I get from coffee. I may have a problem with addiction. My work has been weighing on my mind. I wonder what the hell I am doing. The question that will remain unanswered is how the hell can I not?

When the sun has just passed its meridian in the sky, I finally get a cart that doesn’t squeak and feel the day might just be a glorious one. It starts squeaking after about 20 feet. Standing at the check stand, waiting for the cashier to finish sliding my purchases over the window with the electric eye, I think the reason we feel so good when we consume is that it fulfills a biological instinct—maybe it’s just all the advertising though. Later, my psychic aunt seeks me out for insightful inspirations. A progeny to her oracle? Or perhaps just fucked up psychologist… Need I point out the irony?

I see the smoke in the sky and instead of wondering what building has burned, I think it must be from the fire that used to be my life. Never mind. This is not some depressing diary entry that will, after I drink/smoke/caffeinate myself to death, live in infamy along with my work that was previously unrecognized while living. No. I got all that angst out as teenager. It’s just a perspective shift. There’s a lick of flame still burning inside.

“Benjy Compson”