Oh, but there are many distractions for the writer. I think of all the years Cervantes was stuck in situations not very conducive to productivity, aging all the while, but still, where he might have said, oh, I've missed too much time, too many years, what's the point, the plucky chap picked up his pen, no more attempts at literary efforts foreign to him, now I write for me.
And so I felt. I cannot be trusted around many distractions, sure I'll have a Guinness, I might as well, here I am. Oh, look at her, she's pretty... Oh, that wine, it might taste pretty good, I bet. And there is not a lot of reason to, after you've written in your morning, support going back, alone of course, to write more. And years go by in states of coping, you cook dinner, the wine bottle is open, you do a little housekeeping, then later you're bored and feel the need for a little outside stimulation, Russia House. No point writing then.
But you have to admit who you are. You have to admit having the writer's psychology, admit the ability or desire in your heart for anything else. It seems like such an odd thing to value. What is writing, in its essence, but writing, and that you have to realize as your value. And going to sit in the bar at Kramer's is not the same thing as writing, though you might want to think it looks like part of that life. No. Going home after buying Atticus Lish's book, after peeking into Infinite Jests and seeing that Volume Three of Knausgaard's My Struggle is in, and that the new biography of Joseph Mitchell is not, and looking over the vast array of other temptations and not blind to the female of the species, I pay and tell the young fellow with the cap behind the register, good luck with the chicks, and that I now am sensing general luck coming for him, going home after that to write a bit more, that is writing. Even if it has no discernible plot nor a form. A cool rainy Saturday night in late April, near Shakespeare's attributed birthday, with different versions of Kerouac, The Scroll, Visions of Cody, and the conventional paperback in Signet 25th Anniversary edition, plus Preparation for the Next Life to read through, I am returning to a former self, encouraged by I do not know what, but that I grow tired of the distracting devils that reside in me.
You can only write a little bit at a time. And staying sober might help rather than hinder that, and going out really doesn't do much for the whole process except mysteriously, television as well. Nope, you're stuck alone, in the quiet, and you might burn some incense, but there's not much more you can do but be good and keep at it.
Has it taken seeing the therapist to remind me of all this, of how I used to derive a lot of satisfaction from writing, even with little other tangible reward beyond that. Remember your values. Carry through with them, even if from outside they may seem odd.
Not much point is there to having a girlfriend even when you are not satisfied with your progress, and dating for me looks like a highly unlikely proposition, given my hours and the corresponding energy levels. There is no home for me, no one to cook dinner with at One AM, but me.
I have not the stomach to write of affairs with women. Nor am I that interested in tending bar. Nor do I have any Dean Moriarty to hang out with. Just me.
Or could it be that, with rare exceptions, the art of others is a thing tolerated, that you're better off with returning to those few artists who do make sense to you, who strike you as having good quality, and then not worry about the myriad of others, but be satisfied with the monkish quietude of the place you call home, underneath the older man kind enough to put you up when your brother moved on from the one bedroom basement you shared on the same street, ships passing in the night. The art of others is much like waiting on people at a bar or restaurant. You're putting energy in, serving, giving your time and attention, and often enough, it's okay just to stay in, amuse yourself as you see fit.
Ah, but here I am, bored with myself again, and the night at The Dubliner after the talk has made me see, as is typical, Saturday as my version of Sunday night, before the school day, back to work.
It's an odd way to live. What can you do? The life of a writer.
I am bored with myself now, but I am home alone, and the bottle of Chinon is chilled and open, the broiler heated for a satisfying hamburger.
There were times when I was ashamed, almost, of my love for Kerouac. There was a time when I went to the National Gallery with my mom and I could not bring myself to buy the picture book biography that held things and stories I had not seen.
There was a time I would not go to book stores. Life was about going to work at the bar. I left the Chekhov on the shelf. I got gloomy about the book I'd written, and it gloomed me to read it.
Blocks away from me the Correspondent's Dinner, televised. I'm thinking my thoughts on Kerouac, but I've not resisted allowing the CNN coverage on in the background. I like the President very much, as a human being, as a professional. He has a sense of humor. But the room is, you know, filled, filled with celebrity journalists, with dour Wolf Blitzer unable to play along lifting his hand. The humorless are full of good humor and jokes to each other, and they are showing themselves off, the vain aspect of the world. Which can only be seen in context of a faulted person, the writer.