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.

12 November 2001   20:50 hours
reading a fragment of poetry by a much younger self { } the scent of the real