Sunday, August 28, 2011


It is Sunday afternoon; only a fool or a writer would be at the desk on such a balmy day.  You have just been alerted by the publicist of your about-to-be publisher of a blog post, written by your editor/publisher, wanting you to check it for any inaccuracy.

You read the text, which moves you to call said editor/publisher on this balmy, splendid Sunday afternoon, thinking she will be out enjoying what is left of the afternoon and perhaps sharing a bottle of pinot grigio with an amiable companion, which will allow you about three minutes of a thank-you message left on her answering machine.

Turns out she is "there," in her work area, pleased to hear from you because she has two questions for you that are at the heart of a writer's inner compass, at once attractive and comforting while at the other extreme frightening.  "What do you want to write next?" is the first question and "When can we anticipate it?" is the next.

Into the conversation comes the question of what she wants next and the calm statement that she has no problem seeing what you want to write next coming before what she hopes you will write next.

Publishers do like time lines, which is to say delivery dates, thus you find yourself talking in terms of February 1, 2012 and February 1 2013 for what she wants.  Your mind is a hum of energized processing, of choices.

Reality has, for the moment, presented you with certainties, causing you to realize that certainties have finite borders, due dates as opposed to undifferentiated activities associated with submission, possibilities of polite or indifferent regrets.  For a time, the universe you inhabit has become more structured than you are used to experiencing.

Structure often suggests if not outright demands a certain regularity of performance.  For the first time since you have begun these notes, back in March of 2007, you look at the template for an actual number.  It informs you 1682, which is something of a comfort because it means you have spent that many consecutive days with some observation or other here in this particular template, this particular blank screen, this particular equivalent of blank pages you have handwritten on or typed upon, plus all the subsequent pages after trading your typewriter for your first computer.

A manic medley of things you want to write spools past your mind; you take up minuets and square dances with a brigade of pseudonyms.  A name you thought amusing when you were mildly drunk comes to you.  Were you ever Adam Snavely?  Of course you were.  What about Walter Feldspar and Craig Barstow, those two red-necked cowboys you were in order to write Westerns?  Yes, of course. And the ladies you were, in order to write romances.  Roberta.  Yes, you were Roberta Bledsoe.  And another prank pseudonym:  Gunnar Bjorkstrup.

It has long since been beyond the thoughtless indifference to choice.  Of course you could write anything:  It was important to believe you could do so--that is, before it became more important to discover what and why.

What once seemed so endlessly possible seems now to orbit about a matter of exquisite choice, a choice felt at some depth not previously investigated.  Thus into the equation comes awareness that seeming as easy as it had seemed has cost you time, precious time, and now you must scurry to catch up.

Working within comfort zones dulls you to the need to take chances; stepping up to encounter a horizon line that extends beyond your normal horizons brings you the risk of seeing a vision you can neither describe nor dramatize much less explain.

You find yourself moving furniture, stacking chairs on tables, attempting to build a platform that will lift you over the horizon.  And the clock begins ticking.  February.  First. 2012.