Between Sunday and Wednesday of this week, I wrote nineteen poems. Last week, I wrote six stories. The week before that, I wrote a very long essay. It was weird. To make up for how strange it was—for how irresponsible it seemed—I then made a list of the things I’m writing that have been unfinished for more than a couple of months. I hoped the list would give me a sense of obligation: either finish these things or abandon them completely, but in any case do something with them. I don’t like making lists, but I do like deleting things. It was a big deal.
I learned a lot from my list. The main thing I learned is that in 2012, which was in a real sense the year I started writing seriously, I wrote over 200 things that never made it past the third line or sentence. In 2010 and 2011, I wrote almost 300 poems, and one of them was good. Last year, I cleaned up after myself; there are no drafts, just finished things, that I could do something with now if I wanted to. 2014 was the year of half-built projects. Everything from 2014 is an enthusiastic burst of unbridled intention that stops dead in the middle of a sentence or a line. According to my computer, which has never lied to me, I never modified any of these files or even opened them again.
The thrilling conclusion to this story is that I went ahead and deleted everything I wrote before 2015.
Anyway, here’s a typewriter
Because I haven’t been home a lot in the past two weeks, I’ve been having a lot of original ideas. They might not be good ideas but they’re ideas. In my house it is impossible to have a thought other than a thought that is about the screaming noise that the people and animals in my house are making. If there are any jobs out there that hire people who have a lot of thoughts about screaming, I am an ideal candidate. I will get the job done but it will be necessary for me to work from home if I am to complete the task.
I watched the movie Flicka last night because I was given no choice in the matter by the children who hold tyrannical sway over my destiny. In the movie Flicka, the actors who play the parents are the same age as the actors who play the children. The girl in the movie briefly dresses in drag and enters a small-time rodeo to avoid writing an essay about ghost horses. The movie is a commentary on the uselessness of creative writing programs. In the end her dad types an essay up from the notes in her composition book and emails it to the high school (firstname.lastname@example.org), where Elmore Leonard is probably the principal and Thomas Pynchon the janitor. Everyone loves her dad’s essay. The girl’s horse also gives her a fever and the two of them enter into a symbiotic relationship characterized by low-pitched moaning. The music at the end is exactly the same as the X-Files music except for the last two notes in the phrase. This movie is about the serious consequences of not knuckling down and finishing your essays. If you live on a huge ranch in Wyoming and you don’t finish your essays, if you are not inspired, your horse will turn into E.T.
Dream: I don’t have dreams anymore but if I did they would all be about how much I would like to be able to sleep again. The dream I had last week, which I remember fondly because it was a dream and that means I was asleep, had to do with lying in a pool of cold water at the bottom of an ornate staircase where two houses met in the middle of an otherwise empty field. There was no one around for miles. I got out of the water and walked away from the stairs. I was too tired to climb them just then. Nothing made a sound for a thousand miles. The sun wasn’t too bright to look at. I stared at it for what seemed like hours, on the verge of free thought and enlightenment, until I woke up and discovered that I had left the lamp on the nightstand on all night.