the business of writing

It is an enterprise fraught with hazard, obviously,
not unlike investment banking or stand-up comedy
down at the Boom-Boom Room on Friday evening,
your first - or any other - night on stage.
A question of exposure: how much to sink
into the gig, what you're entitled to
hold back. Had you known the risks, the intractable
doubts, law, even psychiatry would've seemed less
daunting, the nightly challenge simply one of looking
up the right book, then nodding sagely at your clients,
as you ring it up by the hour. Instead, you face
the dense smoke of a thousand plausibilities
befogging the page, so many others gathering
in wait as you clear the air with one firm choice
or other. Not one street will brighten because of
what you write. And if it's the the touch of a woman
you're really after, she's standing at the back
of the room, leaning on the wall near the Ladies,
her sad eyes and love aimed elsewhere. No, if there's
solace to be found in the business of writing,
it will not be here, fighting to hear yourself speak,
nor in the thunder of applause, if it comes. Consider
yourself blessed, if a while afterwards, you feel delivered
from something not quite understood, possibly
illegal and almost certainly dangerous. Your heart
whispering faster than usual; the chill air and rain
stinging less lightly than before.

Alvin Pang

© 12 November 2001   20:50 hours