I can’t, I’m too nervous to eat pie

April 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm (Uncategorized) ()

That’s all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones

 Raymond Carver

I don’t have many words today. I have a deadline tomorrow for a 1500 word story. All it feels like I’m doing is coughing up lackadaisical little letters that just refuse to hold hands and play in sentences I like enough to sign my name to.

Clearly the right time to sit cross-legged on my floor and pull some Raymond Carver spines out of my bookshelf.

This man is extraordinary. His slices of life are so exquisitely resonant that you almost don’t realise their utter everydayness until you’ve swallowed the last line and find you’re sitting there, silent, with your hand resting on your throat. No smoke and mirrors, no melodrama. Just simple, elegant, beautifully written stories that make my heart hurt just a bit.

I wish I knew how he did it.

I hate tricks. At the first sign of a trick or gimmick in a piece of fiction, a cheap trick or even an elaborate trick, I tend to look for cover. Writers don’t need tricks or gimmicks. At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing- a sunset or an old shoe- in absolute and simple amazement.

I know I could read Carver’s depiction of an old shoe and be completely charmed by it. The ability to say so very much in one line is really a thing of beauty. Wouldn’t you keep reading if you read the following lines?

A man without hands came to the door to sell me a photograph of my house.

(from ‘Viewfinder’)

Honey, no offense, but sometimes I think I could shoot you and watch you kick.

(‘Where I’m Calling From’)

He wondered if she wondered if he were watching her.

(‘Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?’)

That morning she pours Teacher’s over my belly and licks it off. That afternoon she tries to jump out the window.(‘Gazebo’)

She won’t give him back his look.

(‘Cathedral’)

Happiness. It comes on unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really, any early morning talk about it.

If you haven’t read him, go find some. And if you have, well, then you know what I’m talking about. So until my words learn to link arms and form an orderly line across my page, I might just sit here and read. That’s what sunny Sunday afternoons are for, right?

Photograph: Bob Adelman/ Corbis

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1 Comment

  1. Leith said,

    “All it feels like I’m doing is coughing up lackadaisical little letters that just refuse to hold hands and play in sentences I like enough to sign my name to”.
    Poetry from writers block!!

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