I finally got it: the marked madness of being an obsessed writer—flopping my eyes upward at the ‘on and on and on’ but slitting them sharp at the ‘ahhhhh!’. And between this: the mumbling; the searching for the goodness, sometimes even (hardly) the brilliance; the reading and the rereading and the editing; the scratching out, the checking off; but mostly the bareness and the skeletons of the intent for ‘Art’ art. But no, mostly disappointment. I scan, I huff and puff. I write on.
All this changes of course when I sit down in a crowded coffee shop. I frown, yes, but deeper, and when I stroke my beard to worry and frustrate over sentences or motives, I have a far-off glint in my eyes directed to the brunette in the corner or her friend or both or all the girls in that place. I’m different now. Here, I’m the madman scribbling, who sips and frowns and writes. This is how they see me and I play my part. I peer at my tea cup with an expression not quite finished by the chisel of my passions but defined nonetheless. Only hints here and there.
Exactly as I am here with you. It’s my ego here and there. I’m performing for you, on stage. Here, there is no madness. How could you know my happy madness but more importantly, how could I show you? Writing is the Sisyphusian task of exchanging words for words. That’s it. These words for other ones. Letters for words for sentences for paragraphs for scenes for chapters for parts for a novel. The part for the whole.
Here, with you, in this coffee shop we share, it’s ‘Look Ma!’. It’s ‘Check this out’. ‘Me too’. ‘Love me’. Which is any art form, really, no matter who you are. Connections is what art is truly all about. Even disconnections use their power to at least first connect. A ‘Fuck you!’ begins with the urge to tell it.
But literature is more complex. And more than that, it’s wonderful at showing (or even just attempting to show) the inner workings of the mind. TV and movies are easier, yes. Here, they say, here is your art. Literature both gives and teaches because it’s up to you to fill in the blanks. ‘Here are the words’ literature says, ‘and here even are the descriptions and the sense triggers, and here is even their own thoughts and feelings and better yet, here is even their deepest darkest fears and desires and secrets that not even they know all about. But you provide the rest.’ And what rest! Who’s Hamlet looks like anyone else’s? What other art form does that? What other art form inhabits the mind of the audience with such a distinct and impressionistic experience? You can change someone’s perspective, change their mind, or change their prejudices. Or if not to change then to show them themselves.
So here, in my room, at this desk, where I perform the greatest job in the world–a job where I have sacrificed my life and time and energy and well-being–how funny and ironic and frustrating and glad-hearted I am to know that no matter what I write or how I write it, you won’t understand what it is to have this happy madness.
I have it now. It’s more intuitive than you think. It flows in and out, this power to see. This power to create. Characters inhabit my life just as flesh-and-blood people do.
Here I am, marked with this madness. A mad love.
So maybe you can understand after all. This is a love story. Whether mother or God or lover or thing or self, Love is a madness. A perfectly felt but never-wholly understood madness that surrounds not only my mind and my heart but my soul. Take the one thing you love more than anything in the world. There. Right there. ‘That feel’, as Tom Waits once sang. Happiness is too infinitesimally small and Pain is to monumentally incompetent to explain in words what you feel in proximity of either near of or far from this Love. It was something you once just simply felt, but now it is something that drives every motive, every decision, every reaction. It creates you, recycles you, cleans you out, polishes you up. It breaks you down, burns you up, fires you in the forge, and pours you into the mold. When it’s with you, you are more potentially better a human than you’ll ever be, and so strong is this love that even when it leaves you, it touches you still like a phantom hand.
Don’t ask me what this post is about. Maybe it’s a crossroads or a reflection point. But I’d like to think it’s just simple madness. Unedited, off-the-cuff words from the mind of one passionate human to another. That way this intent stays where it’s supposed to be—as a bridge between one place to another. Ta.