I’m slowly going through my correspondence with Ray, my friend of 26 years, upon his death on October 20, 2012. On his Death Certificate the cause should be: “His body couldn’t keep up with his spirit.”
Age in years, 67. Age in wisdom, infinite. Here’s a letter he wrote about writers’ block or being in a fallow place (as my teacher calls it). This is the letter he wrote, with one sentence deleted because it was too personal:
My impulse is to try and fix your reality for you. And, of course, I know better. (Pretend I did not suggest the following.)
Sit down and write about not wanting to sit down and write. Write about not knowing why you don’t feel like writing. Write about not knowing why or what it is that’s the problem. Write about not wanting to know. Write about not caring. Write about not writing about not writing about not writing about not writing.
Pretend that you’re going to throw it away. And so, write about what you do not want to write about. No one has to know. Decide to write poorly. Choose to write inefficiently. Lead with your chin. Botch it. Fuck it up purposefully. Wallow in it.
Misspell words. End sentences with prepositions. Dangle infinitives.
Write about the child, sitting there refusing to participate. Hold your breath until you get your way. Lay on the floor, kicking and screaming. Be ugly and vituperous [sic—vituperative]. Tell God to eat a lump.
Trick yourself. Write letters. Write as if you were hiding in letter writing. Write about this powerful broad who rocks with intelligence and a capacity for caring, and is merely eaten up with low self-esteem, wasting away there, ego-tripping. Banality itself.
Write about not wanting to write about not wanting to write, and about why you don’t want to write about that. Or throw that out and start a good science fiction story with lots of sex in it. Wherever the bouga-bouga is hiding—whatever is taboo—wherever is the darkest shadow, write about that. Fill it with light. Radiate light into the darkness of your angst. See the situation being illumined with the light of your very resistance to seeing your way to the solution. See the resistance as the right course of action. See the light increasing to the level of functional blindness. The whole planet of beings, surrounded with so many suns they are all blinded by the light, and having to develop sense organs within their skin to compensate for being blinded by the light; beings who are intuiting through their skin, who feel beyond the wall of light and sense the entire universe, past, present, future. Be the earthling receiving their signal. What are they saying to earth? And who are you to be receiving these intergalactic images? What drama does that set up?
Have a set back.
Imagine someone taking advantage of you, and then kick their ass from here to Botswana. (Write about the carnage of it all—the trail of blood and guts, bone and hair, snot and piss stains…)
Write about two or three pages an hour.
[Signed] An early Happy Birthday!