So now it rains, the drops all
Silver with those haunting spaces
between them, just there
and gone. Now what mystery
can reveal itself in this emptiness?
The instant of time or love
a beating of the heart or throb
of desire? Or just that perfect
open, odd present that eludes us
when we try too hard?
Now there is not knowing, of course
just taking it easy, Jack, and kicking
back. Sighting in a rifle. Changing
the plugs or using the most perfect
brush stroke to show our understanding
of how the water flows, all silver.
NB: Incandescence was originally published in 1980.
I grew up in Hollywood, California, and I went to Hollywood High School. When I was young Hollywood was a lot like a mill town, in that everyone worked at one place, and it wasn’t just writers, directors, actors and musicians who went through the gates of the movie factory, which even now I recall as having the atmosphere of a smoke belching lead smelter, but carpenters, electrician, seamstresses, costumes designers, set builders, too, and a collection of other people who’s work was almost too obscure to be believed (animal trainers, say, who specialized in certain species doing certain things). When I was growing up there were high school kids who worked as extras on various productions around town, but most of us thought this was too dorky for words. It was too much like growing up in Coney Island and getting a summer job selling hot dogs. How about something legit, as they say in California speak, like working in a warehouse? Continue reading So You Want To Be A Screen Writer?…
The sculling boat I row was made by Graeme King, who has a shop in the Vermont town where I live. He is a friend and a man I admire, not only because of the beauty of his boats, but because he is at once exceedingly precise and yet oddly mysterious, which is a quality that he shares with his boats. He was born in Australia and for awhile he worked on boats at Harvard, but now in his own shop he makes eights, fours, doubles and singles. Recently, a company (Elite Rowing) has been formed to make composite, or plastic versions of King’s designs. In his own shop he works alone, surrounded by the smell of sawdust, epoxy and polyurethane. He is a careful, restrained man, but when he says something, people tend to listen. Once, when I asked him how he learned to make racing singles, he said, “Trial and error.” Continue reading Sculling and the Writing Life…
Every now and then I will ask a question that I should have had the sense to leave alone. Or, at least, I should the sense to leave these items in the gray, indistinct realm where they usually exist, like a collection of impulses to kiss someone that were stifled just in time. In fact, I asked one of these questions this morning.
But before getting to the meat of this question, a little background is in order. I have published eleven novels over the last thirty years, although, to be what is known as brutally frank, I should say, too, that perhaps I have actually written a couple more than these eleven, and that the, ah, extra ones are residing in the depths of a trunk. Or the modern version of a trunk, which is a diskette in a small plastic container that is slowly gathering dust. I have to say, too, that to have published eleven novels by my age, you have to start when you are very young. I signed my first book contract when I was 25.
So, you can see that this is what I have done with my life. The question I asked, as I sat down this morning to start my twelfth book, was this. “Just what the hell are you doing? What, in god’s name are you trying to accomplish? Can you please explain what is so necessary about sitting in this room for two years, raking yourself over the coals, for another novel? And when you answer, by god, you better have some pretty good answers.” Continue reading Why I Write…