Please read aloud.
I’ve got to tell you, first off, that I don’t like writing about myself. Everything I’ve ever written was a lie, even if it was “based on a true story.” I feel better letting characters speak for me because I don’t know what I really believe in or think. I don’t know how I feel…exactly. But you can bet your ass that my characters do. And I live for that.
This morning I started the day reading a speech that was given by one of Goddard College’s writing professors. There’s been a book published, Alchemy of the Word: Writers Talk about Writing that includes over thirty of these keynotes. I’m going to work my way through the book one day and one speech at a time. It will be like sitting in the audience of a graduating class every morning for the next month. I look forward to that.
What strikes me most about the Alchemy book, about keynotes, about writing, about living, is that there is no limit to the way words can be lined up on the page. I’m amazed and heartened to know that whatever I might write has the chance to reach into the chest of a reader, take him or her by the heart, and squeeze until tears pour out, or laughter, or fright. Christ, anything is possible. I like that.
With today’s need for everyone to have a blog and a facebook account and a twitter account and to have all their reading habits chronicled on Shelfari or Goodreads, I’m saddened to note that people seldom have deep and heartening conversations anymore. No one appears to be passionate, really passionate, about anything. They say they are, but they don’t act it. Why the fuck is anyone even reading this? My thoughts are no more important than anyone else’s. Reading this, do you really feel as though you know me? I don’t even know myself. And there’s truth in that.
Writing isn’t a game, but I like playing games with words. I like experimenting with people’s lives and thoughts, too. Writing isn’t a project, but I like projects, so I organize my writing into one project after another. This past year, I finished two novel projects, a poetry project, and am rewriting my latest project. They’re not novels and collections, dammit, they’re projects. You can count on that.
My life is filled with family, friends, television, music, work, and writing and writing and writing. I like to repeat words once in a while to see what happens when I read them out loud. I had a dream once where Jesus came to me and I asked him what I should do. He said write, write, write. Is that the truth, or have I slipped into writing lies? Sometimes I’m not even sure how my life keeps going. When I think of people juggling many things in their lives, I think of all the events of a day. That’s a lot of balls in the air, and we hardly notice. We juggle a lot in a day. Even you can agree to that.
One of my projects (remember) is based on the time I spent in Thailand during the Vietnam War. I was there between October of 1973 and August of 1974. It’s titled, “Ten Months in Wonderland”. Maybe that’s what this post is really about. It’s about telling the truth, and about lying. It’s about remembering wrongly, waking from a dream with only the nuance of an image or words that you think you remember, but don’t care if you remember them correctly because you are going to pull from the dream what you want to pull from it anyway—just like you pull from life what you want. And after all of this wonderful and horrible shit that takes place in a life, there are always those who believe you were actually present and awake for all of it, that you were part of the life of the characters, or that you were the characters. Like some therapists believe: in your dream you are the protagonist and the antagonist. And you are, and you aren’t. I don’t know what to tell you. Think about that.