You live a sort of life, or this thing you call life. Others expect you to call it life. I believe that is why we have a word for it. Words become words out of necessity. The necessity of a human being. A writer’s necessity. You live a life in which you are never quite sure if you are going up or down until the very last moment, until your very last breath is spent on recovering all those moments from the past you call memories. While you do that you realize that every recovered memory is inherently an apology first to yourself, then to all those who have touched you, and then, finally, to all those who have seen you at one point. Yes, even to those. Until you become yourself a walking apology. Have you ever thought of how an apology looks like? Behold the very flesh and bones of a walking apology. The books that you write are themselves apologies. You apologize and ask for forgiveness to your characters, for giving birth to them and then leaving them to linger in a sort of fictitious limbo until you sort your things out. Problems with your girlfriend or boyfriend, your computer has a nervous breakdown, your neighbor’s kid will not shut up. All of these happen while your characters are waiting there, anxious for something to happen, anything. They are just characters, you think at one point, masks; they are supposed to do that. Yet, what if they are not supposed to do that after all? What if we are characters ourselves waiting for our author to figure things out? Then you apologize to yourself and to your own past. We all know that in books the past comes out distorted, changed, and broken. One memory comes out eyeless, faceless, earless, and with all limbs broken. Apologize to that, your sincerity shall be appreciated if you will ever be forgiven, that is. Then you apologize to everybody else because their story too came out in your book, in between the lines. Keep in mind though that you will never be forgiven. That character, still waiting in that airport for the love of his life, will never forgive you. Could you not give him what he wants? Just a few words, a few sentences and he would live happily ever after. Yet your stubbornness and the fact that you yourself lived a life tell you that this is how the story goes, and that his happiness needs to be sacrificed. How could he forgive you for that? For denying him that ending. Ultimately, it is just a matter of words is it not? How could you sacrifice that happiness for the sake of the story? Your duty ends there, you think, at the end of the story. You are the almighty author after all. Somehow, you know that asking for forgiveness is futile, but you do it anyway thinking, hoping that at least one third of the guilt will vanish, just like that, with those two words that you write at the end. You refer to it sometimes as signing a contract by which the internal mechanism of the book is set into motion. What you do not realize is that those two words are like a death sentence to your characters, their sorrows relived with every reader. How could you, dear author, ask for happiness yourself? When your own happiness will be, at one point, sacrificed for the sake of the story?
Most of the times it’s like making a deal with the devil. Or, maybe even worse, becoming a devil yourself, miming the act of creation which has already been done majestically by more brighter gods. And your work is never good, your inner editor keeps saying that. It’s like the words you use are never there, never at the center of the problem. Never the body itself, but an outline of the body, never life itself but the margins of that life. That’s where you need a deal with the devil, to help you cope with that, to help you cope with the inherent imperfection which occurs every time you give life to something through the medium of language. It’s like a devil’s doll made out of mud, it will work only for a few hours then fall back into the silence of lifeless bodies. And then there’s the urge to cut everything, to delete the life that has commenced with the first word you’ve written down. And then there’s the fight between you and the world that – once switched on – will claim it’s rightful place into existence. But the truth is, it’s not so much about using the right words, but rather about using all the wrong words, the more marginal vocabulary, the vilest and most obscure emotions, things which would make others throw up and, most importantly, think, see things, smell things, and face that life which so many things try to suppress it, eat it, digest it, making it more beautiful for the sake of the children. A man might deal more successfully with erectile dysfunctions in fiction than in reality. And it’s not about growing disgustingly long beards, and writing in the middle of the night when your neighbors are having the time of their lives while the children are sleeping, or masturbating, or throwing up while writing just because masturbating and throwing up might just add a pinch of surrealism to your writing, and, I think, it’s not about having sexual intercourse with as many ladies of the night as you can, as often as you can. Because, in writing, the effort is only yours, and everything else is just a procrastination of an ailment which sleeps undisturbed into your flesh. Writing is the indirect expression of that ailment, just like a pile of unwashed dishes is the indirect expression of a condition, namely that of (1) having to clean after doing something which is physically pleasurable, and (2) having to think about the benefits of an automatic dish washer, or of finding a partner that might just wash the dishes unconditionally. Writing is never pure body. Writing is always synthetic body and synthetic smell. That which you need in order to know that what you are is not just inert matter, but matter capable of creating desire and suffering when that desire is not satisfied.
Great things make you twitch. First, you are aware of it because a twitch makes itself visible inside absence of movement. The beginning of a song, or generally speaking, the sudden appearance of sound, makes your eardrum twitch because the first sound that touches it is different from the silence that was before. When you run your muscles twitch in order to produce movement. When you speak your speaking organs have continuous twitches in order to distinguish sounds one from the other. When you write the muscles of your fingers twitch in order to distinguish a letter from the previous and the following one. When somebody wants to frighten you it is enough to produce a strong sound preceded by a long silence or to appear suddenly into an empty space or into your visual field. Apparently, when you are not prepared you are aware only of what happens before and after the twitch. Silence and the song has already begun, rest and the run has already begun, blank and the letter has already appeared on paper. Great things happen in our absence.
I wonder what happens when you are prepared.
The first note from a musical piece opens a river of sounds, the first sentence of a novel opens an entire horizon. You open your mouth and the sounds come out as you want them to be. You caress the paper with the tip of your fountain pen and the ink starts to flow making letters and then words, sentences. You want to run and the muscles start moving as you want them to move.
When you are not prepared every throb, twitch and pant is just another throb, twitch and pant.
And what or how is the twitch that comes accompanied by a great thing? How is the twitch that comes with the beginning of a great song? I think that there is a difference between the twitch that comes in actual speech and the twitch that comes with the reciting of a poem; between running and dancing; between a shopping list and the creation of a poem or a novel. That particular throb, twitch and pant is not just another throb, twitch and pant…