I’m on the verge of rewriting my novel, “Grace Notes.” I’m already swollen with it.
My dreams – streaming and colorful – have become even more Technicolor. My eyes have taken on that keenness I get when I’m in the throes of making stuff up. I’ve begun again to be acute, to note all things: the stops and starts of a woman newly arrived at a noon Christmas party, her body tightly coiled, her harnessed desire for a cocktail over food making her conversation unfocused. I see, and can almost taste, the fat moon over the bay at Sausalito.
Words are again beginning to haunt me again. The pretty ones, like gamboge, a color the yellow of amber. Funky ones appear, too, from ether. Ooo, my brain coos, ooo; I get to use bumf. A word that has two meanings: toilet paper, or throwaway paper like junk mail. You just know I’m itching to use that one. And probably won’t, scared away by the ghost of an editor’s hectoring pen. (See? The catastrophizing has also begun!)
I know already that on the good days when the work sings, I will ask myself, how is it that I didn’t know I could write till freshman English at the University of Cincinnati? If it weren’t for the kindly, dying teacher who told me after class that I had a flair for writing, would the desire to sling words out? Doubt it. At age 12, I’d convinced myself that I’d lifted something from a novel. My British second form teacher had cocked her head and asked if my line, “a riot of bougainvillea blood flowers” was original. And, how did I explain away the early poems? C’mon now, which teenager doesn’t scribble heartbreak verse? To this day, poems are my stepchildren.
I also know already that when the writing’s not going well, I will slap my broad black desk hard. Tears will stand in my eyes. I will swear long and cruel in vivid, living colors. If you know me, kiss me.