Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The only way out...

is to write your way out...

Someone said this to me once and I know it's true.

There was a dream I had many years ago. I was living in Cambridge, in grad school, and pretty miserable. I dreamt that I was walking down a Paris street and inside I saw Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, sipping campari and sodas. The name of the cafe was Lascati Ogni Speranza Voi Que Entrate. The "Leave Behind All Hope Ye Who Enter Here." Which is what is written over the Gates of Hell in the Inferno (I was studying Dante at the time).

But I wanted to be a writer so I went inside. I sat at a bistro table and ordered my campari and soda too and as I did my bistro table and I fell into a deep, dark hole in the center of the earth. Clearly there was no way out. Suddenly six men arrived with a coffin which they placed before me. When they left, I understood that my fate was in that coffin. I opened it and the coffin turned into a rolltop desk with paper for eternity.

Shortly thereafter I left graduate school, packed up my few possessions, including my typewriter, and moved to New York.

This is a painting of my friend, Matthea's orange typewriter. I sketched it one day when I was over. I really love her typewriter (the real one). It is small, simple, and bright as a setting sun. It made me think of a journey I took many years ago with my then fiance. We were going to go backpacking through Europe for six weeks, but he decided to bring a typewriter to a friend of his mother's. An old woman, living on an Island in Greece...I'm not going to go into that whole story right now except to say that I wrote about it in my second collection of stories. A story called "The Typewriter."

Writers have to write. Whether it's yellow pads, journals, typewriters, laptops, it is what we do. Someone once gave me the ten ways that you can recognize if you are an alcoholic and they had substituted the word "write" for the word "drink." Do you write in the morning. Do you feel you have to write every day. If you don't write, do you get irritable or even angry.

I answered yes to all. I am sure many of you would as well

As far as I can tell, it is the only way out of the hole.

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