New Day Terrain

All it takes is a moment of pause to change… I wrote that line years ago, and had no idea how often it would return as a central thought.

I’ve been aware of so much synchronicity lately, listening to the rumblings in my gut that have nothing to do with the hunger satisfied by food, and today there is another roll of thunder inside, a surge, an urge to decide to do something different. I’m listening. I’m listening. I’m listening.

I’ve always been a late-night, all-night writer, looking up from the page or the screen to find the sun had already broken through the branches and the space between my curtain and the pane, and I’ve loved the quiet of the long, dark hours preceding the return of the sun, the quiet beyond my room, as if the entire world sleeps while I slip into a fiction that I hope to find the phrasing for, to do justice to the people existing there, to convey their human experience in an honest enough way that at least one person recognizes her/himself and remembers that none of us is perfect.

And the dark hours have been generous over the past years; I have loved 4am probably more than any hour, as it is the quietest, the coldest, the calmest.

But today a need dictates a reversal of direction, and I’m listening. It’s clear, I have loved the dark road for long enough, and now it’s time to see the scenery through the windshield and all around. The night is for vampires, and I don’t have the fangs; plus, writing (for me) is an act of giving blood, not the exsanguination of another’s.

So, for tomorrow my alarm is set for sunrise. I’ll start to spill just as the sun does its colors. I’ll give it a try, this writing in the morning thing that I here some people swear by. If you see me later in the day, don’t be surprised if I have the look of a guy who stayed up all night.

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Perseverance (an excerpt from an email to a writer friend)

During the months leading up to the night when I felt I’d finished my novel, I started to wonder if I was a whole different level of crazy than most writers.

Why am I so obsessed? Why isn’t everyone else who’s working on a novel reporting back that they’ve been in the trenches for days and days, and they just surfaced for a quick meal and hellos to a few friends, and then back to it, because they have to? Maybe they don’t have to. Maybe they just always liked the way it sounded to say they’re writing a novel, that it’s more an idea than anything.

Shit, maybe I’m one of those eccentric writers who will get weirder over the years and grow a beard like Tolstoy, more and more isolated, even as the writing reaches a wider audience, and maybe some of the appeal will come from people sharing the stories they’ve heard or read about me, what a freak I am in real life, a hermit, a guy who meditates for six hours a day and sings to the homeless at night (though right now I’m not really a hermit, and I don’t meditate very often, and I don’t sing to the good people downtown). Actually, now that I’m writing this, those details of that hypothetical life don’t sound all that negative.

But somewhere around June or July, when these thoughts were in full bloom, when I was staying up until 7 or 8 in the morning and not even changing out of my pajama pants some days, when the light was widening at the end of the tunnel and the end of my novel kept calling, beckoning me to continue trudging closer, the existential pondering left me feeling that my drive to write was without a doubt BOTH a gift and a curse, so I decided I may as well embrace the gift side.

I’m glad I’m not normal. And I’m glad you’re not, too. It goes back to what we’ve been saying; the ones who make it are the ones who need to do it. For me, there’s no real choice. Perseverance is another of my favorite principles.

And to go along with that, I think I’ll tack this question on my wall: Why do anything half-assed?

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Why I Write

I have to write. This need may fall into the category of sickness, though I like to think of it more as an intense desire to express my love for dreaming. Enter the dream and exit with newfound meaning; share the summary as though talking to a friend. This is my experience when I read a novel that truly moves me; this is the experience I hope to facilitate for at least one person who reads the novels I write.

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