Monday, June 27, 2011

Writing a book is hard!

How is it that there are so many? Their sheer numbers make it seem so easy, trivial even, but no! It takes thousands of words, and not just ones thrown at the page. You have to pick and trim each one like a hand made garment.

A book is like a dry cleaner store. Tens of thousands of pieces of loved pieces of cloth, each hung in its own protective bag. Each with its original meaning to its owner, and some different meaning to the publisher, and yet a third to the reading public.

How can I ever get the thin red line of truth through such a process? My thoughts are trimed and dry cleaned and hung out to dry. The blank pages sit by my bed and stare at me while I sleep fitfully. The unwritten words have parties in my head: "Wake up! Write me!" they scream. "Write me, I long to be written."

I love their passion, and I want to write them down, but just as I sit to do their work, they become wild mice, scampering every which way, and jumble their order and laugh at me when I chastise them. "I thought you wanted me to write you down."

"Not down, up" they say, always so contrary at the moment of ink. "You're not doing it right. Not that way, over here!"

My words are so rebellious. They're like the adolescent who refuses to smile as soon as he sees the camera. You can take his picture, hoping he'll see his dour face and repent and smile next time, but like my words, he likes the way he looks in those pictures, they like how unruly they are on the page.

"You can photoshop us later," they say. Easy for them to say. Have you ever tried to use Photoshop? It's not easy.

It takes ten times longer to find the right word in a sentence made up of all the wrong words, then it would have if I could have captured the words as they ran by in my head, like marathon runners. I hold out cups of water, hoping they will stop, but they just tear the cup from my hand, splash it on their heads and dash off. They don't even properly dispose of the cups!

If I leave my computer on a white surface overnight, I'm always afraid it will be stained black by the words which escaped overnight.

And then, once I have most of them pressed into place, more or less, and I show the lot to a friend, they fall into the spaces left between the few correct words, and scrape their chins on the ground or ask questions about the thing they read instead of the thing I was trying to write.

There's an old train station here in Mt Airy which has been taken over by old books, thousands of them. Every spot (and many spots that aren't) are jammed with old books which you can have for a dollar or two.

You can by a miracle for a buck! And instead of a run on the bank, they mold there, words begging to be let loose.

1 comment:

  1. Mt. Airy Book Station...
    I would like to take a train that made book stops at book shops...
    Trains are the perfect place to read a book.
    Then you can leave it behind for someone else to read.