Green thoughts sleep furiously.
Sleepy red thoughts exfoliate drowsily.
Glassy notes drown helplessly.
Mossy bells cascade lazily in a carillon in the stone tower, and the girl with the silver hair listens with her face uplifted.
I reach over to the nightstand and pick up the little plastic pencil sharpener, a good one I bought in an art store and give my wooden Skilcraft No. 1, a rare and sensuous instrument, a twist or two and turn back to my yellow pad. The connecting bathroom door is open and I can hear my wife starting up her shower in there. I’ve already kicked our cat Ronnie out of bed and the day is winding down.
Adjective then Noun then Verb then Adverb
Ugly babies play innocently.
Adverb then Verb then Adjective then Noun then Verb then Adverb.
Swiftly brillig the slithy toves ejaculated furiously.
Studying a sentence form works better when the words are nonsense and don’t actually mean anything. Then its pure form and sound. Content is profoundly affected by form and structure, like watching women walk by. I'm trying to teach my ears how to read. I haven’t learned how to hear iambic meter but I’m always messing with it, trying to get the ear. A SENtence IS a SINGle CRY. Pffhh. Writing with a wooden pencil feels for me what playing an acoustic guitar must feel like for a musician. Right now I'm just practicing my scales.
I love words. I’ve always loved words, but recently I’ve begun really working with words, which I think is one of the advanced steps in a writer's apprenticeship. I’ve begun to discover what I think of as “cadence”, which really isn’t the right word, but it’s the word that comes to mind.
Green tongues loll furiously. Hell, no.
I’m a little better than I used to be, which is all you can hope for. I find as I work my way up the basic elements of story craft there always seems to be another level I didn’t realize was there before. As soon as I think I know something I rediscover my colossal ignorance. One of the pleasures of getting older is that ignorance isn’t as threatening as it is when you’re a young person. Ignorance loses its shame. In the things I’m passionate about ignorance becomes a source of excitement.
Ignorance thrives thrillingly.
I have this little pocket planner notebook laying on the bed and I’m thinking, should I make a resolution? Should I resolve to be a better writer? It seems silly somehow, like resolving to grow another toe, or resolving to be taller. You fix what you can fix. I can resolve to study more. I can resolve to do more crits for people, because crits help me learn. I can do that. I can’t make myself a better writer. All I can do is put in my time at the keyboard.
My hand fumbles for the pencil sharpener and it drops off and rolls out of sight. Shit. I put down the yellow pad and throw aside the covers. In the bathroom I can hear my wife in there showering, and it sounds like she’s singing something soft and low.
As I throw my legs over the bed and try to stand, thunderclaps of pain shoot up my thighs. This is good pain, it even feels good a little bit which makes me wonder if this is what athletes and maybe sexual masochists see in pain. It’s so closely related to pleasure that sometimes they cross notes.
The pain came from doing barbell squats yesterday in my back yard. That and yoga stretching. I didn’t resolve to be more fit. Its just that I’ve been sitting around so much that my body began to cry. My body begged to be stretched, to lift, to push, to run, to strain at its limits. It needs to be exactly what it is, muscle and bone and nerve, as a horse needs to run and a bird needs to fly. The spirit wants to be spirit. The flesh wants to be flesh.
The shower goes on. My wife is standing naked under falling water while I crawl on my knees searching for my lost pencil sharpener. Water is falling on her shoulders and soap is moving down the modest swell of her familiar breasts.
The pencil sharpener is under the nightstand and I snatch it up and fall backwards into bed, because it hurts to hold my legs straight. I suppose I should get some aspirin, but the pain is interesting. I should be trying to figure out how to describe it, taking notes or something. The room is filled with the sound of her showering, like rain. I’m imagining her with the sudsy water running down her back and pooling between the cheeks of her ass.
One of the great discoveries of my life was after shave cologne. It represented a major shift in consciousness.
I personally never cared how I smell. Men generally never do. We have to learn stuff like this. We’re not born with that knowledge like bugs and animals, which if they could speak would have told me, the way you smell isn’t supposed to be for you, bub. It’s for getting women. It’s for mating. My wife kept buying me after shave which I simply used to kill the burn of the razor after shaving. Then I noticed I got lucky in bed after splashing some on at the end of the day.
And meanwhile that shower in there goes on and on.
Along with aftershave, another fairly recent discovery for me is that a woman likes to be seduced. To be romanced and eased along. It’s not like they don’t know what you’re doing. Women are the gatekeepers of paradise and they see you coming way before you see them jingling the key.
And still that shower in the next room goes on and on. What if . . . ?
The incantation each fiction writer conjures by. What if?
I’m feeling very aroused right now. It’s not a question of what I’ll do next, because I don’t even know. The thrill is . . .that I don’t know. The incantation each reader conjures by – “And then what happened??” What can happen next if I drop my underwear and go in there and . . . and . . . maybe she’s tired.
What if she’s not?
That has changed for me too. Sex isn’t about getting it in and getting it across the goal post anymore. It’s the essence of this tormented feeling I have right now. Its what makes male birds fluff out their plumage and do silly dances. Its what makes males lions fight, and stags lock horns. It’s this feeling I have right now.
Should I do it? Pull aside the shower curtain, step in and babble something apologetic about washing her back, when we both know the real reason I’m there is sticking up stiffly in front of me?
Should I do it?
The real stuff, where the soul lives, you can’t make resolutions for. You just can’t.
I resolve to be a better writer. No. You will not.
You will never resolve be a better writer, because you can’t. You will observe humanity and try to make your craft a little truer each time if you can and shovel shit with your keyboard until it smells better.
I resolve to become strong and healthy. No. You will not.
Because your body has a lot to say about that. That’s why your legs feel like hell right now. But you can care for your body, the wife of your spirit and allow it to express its nature through pleasure and toil and appetite.
I resolve to be a better lover. No. You will not.
You will love. Or not. That you will do. And you will be kind, no matter what.
I sit here in bed with my ridiculous pencil in my hand and my hopeful hard on and listen to that shower and my pudgy, sore, middle aged body is saying yes, get in there cowboy and saddle up before she turns the water off. Catch the moment before it gets away. Birds want to fly. Isn’t that right? And what do you want, cowboy?
I put down the pencil and the legal pad. I throw aside the blanket and look down at my tent poled underwear with its tiny little wet spot of anticipation and that exquisite fear, that feeling of adolescent mystery is there squeezing my balls. Is this what women feel when they see the candles on the dinner table after a long day? How do I capture that feeling in words? I’m still so goddamn ignorant.
And meanwhile her shower goes on and on.