Thursday, May 06, 2010

An explanation, for what it's worth

Who am I?

I wrote those words last night before bed after seeing an e-mail from Booksurge, or whatever it’s now called. There was nothing unusual about it as the messages come on an annoyingly regular basis, once or twice a week without fail, but something about it struck a nerve that’s been throbbing ever since.

I am no longer an author, I thought. I can barely write a column and often don’t. I can barely scratch through a half-hearted entry in my diary.

Once I was incapable of going a morning without writing something. Anything, it didn’t matter. My life, the dreams that had kept me on edge, checklists, the weather. That drive, that irresistible force, has apparently abandoned me. I am now like the old homes and barns I photograph: empty husks staring hollowly out at the world through broken windows.

“For the last two weeks I have written scarcely anything,” Katherine Mansfield wrote in her diary on Nov. 13, 1921. “I have been idle. I have failed.”

Failed is a good word. A good description for what happens when a writer no longer heeds the call or, in my case, has no call to heed.

Several days ago I wrote a short 414-word entry in my own diary. At the end I added one final phrase to summarize everything that happened before and continues to happen unabated: “What was once so simple has become dreadfully difficult.”

I can write, I am planning a trip to the West, but it’s merely an excuse, coupled with a host of other demands that seem to have flourished in the past month, demands I called upon myself, exigencies of the paying kind which are after all a validation.

Or, as I did a few days ago, I can write, “The orioles have returned.” Though inevitably the sentence remains unfulfilled, awaiting something else, a denouement, justification, explanation. And it does not come, remaining merely a string of useless words. An accusation.

The silence announces itself with a cavernous yawn.

However, it’s true: I am going away for a while. A week, no more, Perhaps it will be enough.

The thought of just staring out the window of a moving vehicle after crossing the Hundredth Meridian, of walking through cliff palaces and box canyons, might well be enough to flood me with sensations and memories that demand enumeration. I hope so.

Until then, it might be quiet around here. I will not forget you. Please, do not forget me.


Virginia Allain said...

I'm just reading Spunk and Bite by Arthur Plotnik about putting more punch in your writing. It's giving me all sorts of ideas.
I hope your trip inspires you and re-energizes your interest in writing.

shoreacres said...

I recently picked up and went away, myself - that's where I've been for the past two weeks. I was only "gone" for a week, but it's taken two more to begin getting back in the routine.

My trip was singular in some ways. I'll be posting about it as soon as I can get myself to do that thing - writing - that's causing you so much.... well, angst seems wrong, but you get my point.

Travel's good, though. Likewise, new experiences. It brings you first sentences like this...

The inclination to cruise Louisiana swamps and bayous with a five-foot paper doll, a camera and an extra helping of chutzpah is a distinctly special one....

I'll see if I can figure out what needs to follow that by the time you get back ;-)

Tom Parker said...

Virginia -- Let me know how you like the book. I might need it for my shelf.

Linda -- You have my full attention. You've also inspired me (maybe) to take my What the Duck plushie along for photo ops. The guys would be unmerciful but then they are anyway.

I'll post pictures along the way as I'll have my laptop for this trip. Thanks for commiserating.

- Dan said...

Sorry bud, but you've never been just a writer.
You've always been an artist. You used your artisan gifts for writing for some time and now you're focusing attention on a new medium - photography.
I contend that your creativity should not be limited to any one medium and you should not feel bad about taking some time off from writing. You are able to express your gifts in so many ways.

Tom Parker said...

Dan -- As always, you touch in surprising ways. You're a good man to have on my side.

Dede said...

Sounds like a break is just what the doctor orders. We all have dry spells --but thankfully we are refilled by inspiration. Here's hoping you will be refilled quickly! You have a way with words but you also tell a heck of a story in your photo's. Enjoy your trip.

Bud Simpson said...

Tom, you should travel each day, but only to the horizon, no further.

Tom Parker said...

Mr. Big Bunny -- What, no "somewhere over the rainbow," no thirst for seeing what's on the other side, for discovering new worlds, new universes, new sights? I agree a person should travel each day even if only vicariously, but real joy comes from delving into the unknown.

Carol said...

Thinking of you, Tom. Am time I don't read your work...I miss it. Please remember that I care.