October 24, 2009

Vacant Hands

I cook all the time here, but I think it may be misplaced energy. Because, I am never actually that hungry. I think it is the desire to do something with my hands that drives me - drives me to cook, to smoke, to drink. To have something to hold and control. I should just buy mounds of clay and shape things of it, or wade into the muddy shallows in front of the house and scoop the black underbelly of the Chesapeake into my restless hands. If only writing were a more physical task. Writing by hand is too slow - my hands can't keep up with the words. If only writing were more like shaping things from clay, or chipping away at a marble square. Sometimes that is how it feels if I have a good writing hour, a good writing moment. Like the words were all there before I came across them and put them together, like I just had to discover them in the great piles of wrong words lying in my head. Just the few perfect beautiful words, all buried and waiting and lonely until I dig them out and string them together and they are right. I have not had a good writing day in three weeks. I have been away, or with people. It scares me that I can only seem to write when I am totally alone.

Today I went to see Where the Wild Things Are in Gloucester, and thought I saw it for what Spike Jonze intended it to be, despite the bored children that surrounded me in the dark theater, gently shushed by their confused parents. How wonderful to know exactly what you want to make and to be able to, critics, production companies, and children be damned. When I got home I went on a bike ride with my new camera and was disappointed by the light. Too dulled by wimpy clouds, too washed out. I biked to the empty Pickle house on Stingray Point to take a look around when the clouds opened up and I knew. I pedaled so hard I thought I'd faint. I knew I had to get there. Pounding down the broken-down dock camera in hand I held my breath, afraid that the clouds would close again. They did not close, and the gulls whipped over my head in the wind off the storm coming. It was like shaping something with my hands, like cutting onions. Like plucking the right words from a tangled mess, paring them out and shaving off the excess until it was just them. How lucky to live in a place that opens up in front of me, that begs to be chased.

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