The leaves of the pin oak look as if they have been lacquered scarlet. Autumn burning into winter.
Back from the local market with an armful of crisp autumn apples, bunches of leeks, bunches of squeaky green Swiss chard, flat cipollino onions all papery white skins and sweetness, locally bottled organic apple juice, slightly manky goats cheese. All I need now are recipes.
And the inspiration to rewrite a chapter for the fourth time. Something there I’m missing. I recite sentences to myself while washing up coffee cups. Thinking about Irvine Welsh, the kind of writer I’m not:
“I’m the same kind of writer as I am a drinker. I’m a binger. Abstinence followed by … well it’s an addict thing, I’ll sit there and my eyes will hanging out my head, it’ll be five days later, unshaven not changed, really, really bad. And eventually I’ll just get told: ‘You fucking minging bastard, get a shower, for fuck’s sake.’ And then I’ll get in the shower and be like, this is good, I’m going for a walk. I’m off down the pub.”
When I first began posting on recovery forums with a lively and argumentative crowd of recovering alcoholics, I would listen to posters telling everyone that we are immature or self-centred or drama queens because we are alcoholics and alcoholics are just like that, every last one of us.
Then I began posting on writers’ forums with a lively and argumentative crowd of writers, would-be writers, published writers, writers with writers’ block, and listened to posters telling everyone that we are immature or self-centred or drama queens because we are writers and writers are just like that, every last one of us.
Self-serving myths that may foster a sense of unity at times, but as anyone who has posted on a political forum knows, political posters are all misunderstood, thwarted, insightful, revolutionary, oppressed, embittered, prophetic and right. Unless of course, a poster is right-wiug or the wrong kind of liberal or left-wing, in which case they are all immature,self-centred drama queens with a tenuous grasp of reality and probably alcoholic writers to boot.
April, and already the aloes on the mountainside are throwing up spires, grey green now but soon to flame out over the brown veld . I’m preoccupied this week, a little troubled, reflecting on uncertainties, browsing through recipes, trying out sentences for spaciousness.
And there are poems for times like these, a music that helps us come through.
The Real Work
By Wendell Berry
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.