Posted on January 31, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair1.31.2015 Journal Prompt Source: theguardian.com January 31, 2015: How it felt. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Once I was asked about writing and if I’d still do it if there was no one to read what I wrote. It’s one of those stock questions. Some hack journalist trying to test a writer’s mettle. It don’t mean shit, just like most of those questions they ask. It’s just stuff they need to fill their pages. It ain’t a serious question and so I give ‘em the answer they want.
I tell ‘em that I write for me. That I’m creating an imaginary world for me to inhabit. I tell ‘em I love the words on the page and how they don’t seem to be my words. How they seem to come from somewhere other than me. Like I’m in touch with something and through me a communication is being made. It’s just the sort of shit they want.
I left my wife today. I just packed a case and left. It was ‘bout time. There weren’t no plan. I just did it. I found a room in a bed and breakfast place. It’s a bit run down, but it’ll do. I left my wife cos she just keeps talking and she’s not really saying anything I need to hear. I left so I could inhabit quiet and out of the quiet will come words – if I wait long enough.
I light up a cigarette, even though the lady downstairs said there’s no smoking allowed in the rooms. There’s a place out back and a gentleman can smoke there if he’s a mind to. I sit on the bed and I wait. And that’s when I’m reminded of that question the journalists trot out when they’ve nothing real to ask, only now I’m asking myself the same question, and asking why I do this at all.
Truth is I wasn’t always a writer. I was just a man before and I didn’t have nothing to say to no one. I was just kicking stones in the dirt and looking back and looking forward and not really knowing what I was looking for. Then I met Pepsi and I thought when I found her that she was all I’d been looking for.
I recall a day and it was maybe the day I was suddenly a writer. We was messing about and kissing and touching each other. Pepsi was sighing and blowing air and everything was suddenly slow and soft. I reached for a pen beside the bed and I started writing stuff on her body, all kinds of stuff, and it just came pouring out of me. I wrote stuff into the hair under her arms, and ‘neath the sag of her breasts and between her legs. I wrote on her back, between her shoulder blades and down the lumpy curve of her spine and up the nape of her neck and into her hair. She kept laughing and she said how it tickled. She thought it was sex I was doing. Then she asked me to read what I’d written.
It was like poetry and shit. I didn’t even understand it all. Pepsi said it was beautiful and she asked me if I’d done that sort of thing before. I shook my head. She looked at me funny, like I wasn’t who she thought I was. Then she made me write it all again, but this time on bits of paper.
And maybe it was sex at first, but then it was beyond that and it was the words I was interested in and not in Pepsi and not in her body. And it took hold of me then and I couldn’t stop. And some hack journalist asks me if I’d still write if there was no one there to read it – shit, and I ask myself the same question and I just don;t know.
I stub out the cigarette and open the window to let the smoke out and air in. Then I take a pen out of my pocket and I start writing, on the back of one hand. And I roll my sleeve up to the elbow and write on my arm. I write till I can’t reach any other part of me, not though I am naked in this unfamilair room. Then I pull back the carpet and write on the floorboards, and on the back of the wardrobe and inside where it’s dark, and on the walls behind the pictures, everywhere that won;t easily be seen.
And I ask myself what it is I am writing, and when I read it over, there’s a woman lying in a bed and I know her, and there’s a man writing words all over her body, and the sunlight is on her and she says it tickles and she says for me to read what I’ve written. And though I am alone, it is as though I am not alone. And somewhere in there is the reason I write. No, I don’t fully understand it either.