Dinu Lippati In A Thunderstorm

Work on my new manuscript began to steamroll a few weeks ago and I have been careful not to get in the way of progress. There seems to be a tipping point when working on a story that signals the coming together of direction, in the sense that I was fumbling around when I began the novel and am now seeing things more clearly in comparison. I don’t believe you can create intellectually honest work unless you trust yourself to see your vision clearly, concisely, and truthfully.

So much of the new story has been written under the influence of dilaudid, alcohol, and other various narcotics that it seems inevitable those forces would enter the work in some capacity. I am not a junkie, but I’ve spent a fair share of time writing this book in hospital beds. Their effects are present, though not at the forefront of the conflict in the story. Living as a half dead writer means that the forces pushing me forward are characteristically extreme and harnessing them has been invaluable to me, as tragic as that may seem.

It is strange (though not unexpected) to look at the manuscript as a whole and to recognize the subconscious influence of my own life in the lives of fictional strangers.

“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our hearts? Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms? Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so that we may feel again their majesty and power? What do we ever know that is higher than that power which, from time to time, seizes our lives, and reveals us startlingly to ourselves as creatures set down here bewildered? Why does death so catch us by surprise, and why love? We still and always want waking.”

- Annie Dillard

Awaited By All

I woke from a dream last night. It was raining. Thunderclaps shook the room and lightning lit up the sky a few moments afterward. I crawled into the shower when I regained control of my senses, but the memory of the dream was still floating around and the pain it brought with it was beginning to sweep over me. I was experiencing all the further shore reunions I dream of every day. They were torn away from me when I woke up.

Inside me, I felt a despair that I haven’t felt in many years. It swelled up when I accepted that I was back in the darkness of wherever we are now. I suppose it was that familiar existential angst that I try to laugh my way out of with jokes and liquor. It must have resorted to attacking my sleeping mind when I refused to cooperate.

I was much older in the dream and I think I had died. There was some imperceptible understanding that I was in some afterlife and that I had chosen to return to the happiest place of my former life. Naturally, I had returned to Treloar.

Treloar is a tiny unincorporated community off the Katy Trail in Missouri. It’s about ten minutes from my childhood home. There was a bar called Our Place in the center of the community when I was a child. In my dream I had returned to it and was standing outside the small building. I was debating on whether I should enter it. I eventually settled on walking inside – even though there was some sense of dread that I could not understand.

When I entered the bar I saw that everyone I had ever loved from my former life was waiting for me. My grandparents were younger and smiling at me from behind the bar. My family and deceased friends were scattered throughout. I saw the great love of my life walking toward me and I saw my dead friends waving from behind a pool table, toasting their beers to me. They were laughing and waving.

It felt like a lifetime as I walked through the bar embracing everyone. They were all there. I found old childhood friends and the occasional unfamiliar face that somehow elicited an emotional response of sadness and joy I did not understand.

In the shower I sat defeated against the wall, and for the first time since I began writing, I understood fully the story I’m trying to write.

They are alive and well somewhere,

The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,

And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end

                     to arrest it,

And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,

And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier. 

Walt Whitman

Friendly Advice To A Lot Of Young Men

I expect I’ll finish the first draft of my new novel by the end of September. In the meantime, I’ve been studying and writing poetry . Six months ago, I submitted a poem to a quarterly review. I withdrew it after they accepted it for publication. Perhaps, I’ll stop being insecure when I’m older. The writing of poetry feels much more intimate than the writing of novels.

That’s irrelevant, I suppose.

The sun is about to rise and I’ve been writing all through the night. I drank too much, so now I’m reading poems by Bukowski and I just finished reading this gem. I suspect it’s one of his more famous poems, but I don’t know. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Also, in July I’ll have poems and typewriter prints for sale at an art gallery in Granite City, Illinois. Check the appearances tab for more information.

Go to Tibet. 

Ride a camel. 

Read the Bible. 

Dye your shoes blue. 

Grow a Beard. 

Circle the world in a paper canoe. 

Subscribe to “The Saturday Evening Post.” 

Chew on the left side of your mouth only. 

Marry a woman with one leg and shave with a straight razor. 
And carve your name in her arm.

Brush your teeth with gasoline. 

Sleep all day and climb trees at night. 

Be a monk and drink buckshot and beer. 

Hold your head under water and play the violin. 

Do a belly dance before pink candles. 

Kill your dog. 

Run for Mayor. 

Live in a barrel. 

Break your head with a hatchet. 

Plant tulips in the rain.

But don’t write poetry.

- Charles Bukowski