I have a Roman nose. The rest of me is entirely Celtic. But I inherited a classical schnoz. My ancestor acquired it at about the same time the Romans were putting the plumbing in the house that I call Britain. At the same time as the plumber was getting laid, my Celtic ancestor arrived at the front door (which was part of Wales back then) and mixed his sperm with the Roman’s so that is why my nose is the way it is and the rest of me gets recognized on the other side of the Severn.
And, anyway, as a writer I’m more interested in the juicy dark meat of gossip than with the bones of the trade. So give me a banquet. Or throw me some scraps. Or let me starve. It is your dinner table, after all, and I’m only a knave.
Sometimes the adamantine drive to always explain and have opinions and swerve this way and that on life’s road creates a heaviness. I just want to live, dazzle between the forces of coming and going. And exploit every atom not as an idea but because I can’t help but do so. Live in the moment not as a singularity but as a wholeness, not as a geometry of this or that but as a circle of deep connecting.
It’s like we are all fragmented and need cohesion but cohesion can only come about because of fragmentation. That’s where I want to live. Every second that ticks by, blood is rushing inside of me to keep me alive and yet I can’t even live up to the blood’s call. Half my body is tingling with expectation and the other half is wondering what’s all the tingling about. I’m aware but only up to a point because the rest of me is lagging behind and the gap’s wide and the senses seem to hesitate.
It’s like I want to snap out of the stupor but there’s a sudden jolt of consciousness that refuses.
I think what I need is to take a long walk and a hot bath.
I came across this great advice from Robert Grave’s housemaster (he didn’t actually give it to me, of course, I got it from the maid): “Remember that the wastepaper basket is your best friend.” It’s good advice for me since I tend to overwrite.
There’s so much to remember when you write. But I find myself just writing and then trying to remember that “everything” when I’m done. And I have a terrible habit of being too harsh, self-critical, too early with my work and I’ve read that a lot of writers discuss how they are not concerned about how good it is they just write. I need to funnel some of that.
Writing is such a peculiar profession. Who else spends so much time alone? Hermits, religious ascetics, murderers, the insane. What company we keep! And then there’s the obsession with words. Do you think surgeons spend as much time with their instruments? Or plumbers with a wrench? And politicians, do you think they ever read the Constitution or imagine what would have happened if there hadn’t been one? Actually, I think a politician should create a policy as if there never was a Constitution and then compare the one he or she has created to the one that exists to see how closely they mirror each other.