I haven’t checked this space in weeks. I was unaware that comments were left regarding my absence. My Bride brought them to my attention. All apologies for my negligence. I’ve also done very little reading and commenting on other blogs. The thing that drove me to contribute and participate in this community these past 5+ years has dried up and blown away. *PFFT* Just like that. The tank is empty. The bus is not in service. The bakery ran out of yeast. Pick a metaphor or make up your own.
In September I went away with My Bride to Napa Valley for a well-deserved, badly-needed holiday. Shortly thereafter I wrote a post about it. I read it. Then I read it again. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was so bad, so mind-numbingly dull, that it knocked the wind out of me. I didn’t realize I was capable of such banalities. It was no better than a poorly-written Facebook post. When Betty White hosted Saturday Night Live, her opening monologue included a dig at Facebook; that when she was young, being forced to look at people’s vacation pictures was considered a form of punishment. And that’s what reading this post was. Punishment. Then I scrolled back, back, way back and they ALL seemed wholly inadequate to me. I couldn’t bear to look at them anymore so I didn’t. I had an epiphany. The bad kind. A few weeks later I tried writing another post but when my fingers touched the keyboard they turned to stone. If I want to write bad Facebook posts, I’ll open a bad Facebook page. lol. OMG.
In the interim, I filled my new-found free time with reading and I was able to cut through three extraordinary books in a row, which did my ego no good whatsoever. Have you ever read a book that was so well-written that when you turned a page, you wanted to tear it out and eat it? I read THREE of those, one after another.
I know my colleague Graham was unimpressed, but I think Hilary Mantel’s writing is plump and juicy. It took me forever to finish Bring Up the Bodies because some of her paragraphs were so perfectly constructed that I had to back-track and reread them over and over. I’ll never be able to write like that and if I can’t write like that, I don’t want to write anything at all.
Then I read Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis. So funny. I’ll never be that funny on paper. Neither will you. (Unless, of course, you happen to be Martin Amis and you’re reading this post.) I attended his reading in Brooklyn when the book was released and it was his voice that I heard reciting that sharp dialogue and those twisty sentences.
Then a real surprise. I read The Richard Burton Diaries. Yeah…the actor Richard Burton. It was an impulse purchase. I remember it getting a good review last year. Burton was an astonishing writer. Who knew! What an interesting life that guy lead. Gallivanting around Europe. Making films, some award-winning, some terrible. Hobnobbing with interesting people. Bored by the politicians, fans, journalists and glitterati he was forced to meet. I devoured it (a 600+ page brick!) while in my commute, office, commute, office, commute, office, commute, office rat trap. Obviously, we can’t all be married to Elizabeth Taylor (twice!) but is this really all I’m cut out for?
I lost my mojo, brothers and sisters. I thought I had a nice little groove going here but my groove ain’t a groove at all. It’s a rut. And, please, I’m not fishing for compliments or begging for approval, despite all appearances to the contrary. I’m too old and numb for that. But I was moved by the comments left and I felt I owed an explanation. Did anyone Google that Bukowski poem that Christy quoted? “…pulled down into the gluey dark.” C’mon, man. That’s pretty good. I got choked-up when I read it. It was brought to my attention at vulnerable moment. I’ll try to not let that happen again.
Saturday, September 14th, 8:15 a.m., The Leonardini Vineyards, Napa Valley. Breakfast, coffee and the newspaper. NOT a rut.