Friday, May 07, 2010

7. Difficult Whys

We are standing on the beach.
'What time is it?’ asks Charlie.
I check my watch. ‘It’s three thirty.’


Not long ago, I heard about a novel that was written all in questions. I thought, why? Why can’t I write a novel all in questions? Why can I not write sideways or through tunnels?

I decided to write a novel quickly. I’d write it in two minutes. I felt excited. If this took off! The two-minute novel! I’d write hundreds of them. Maybe thousands.

I would let it write itself. That novel all in questions surely wrote itself, questioned itself into existence. You never need the answers if you only write in questions, and the same must be true if you write quickly.

So I wrote this novel while I brushed my teeth. Here it is:

If I had a peach there would be two of us.
I’m a man in my forties. I'm hanging white sheets on my cobwebbed clothesline, the pegs snapping from rust, and men, I’m thinking, have too much time to think. That’s their trouble.
What will happen next in this novel is, I’ll turn out to be arrogant, at large, a criminal. I’ll be a little mad. I'll lean into the wind. And I’ll have many interests, for the metaphors.
I’ll be somewhat effete, selfish, self-satisfied, complaining, somebody who likes to eat food, but ultimately, I’ll be likeable.
Sometimes I’ll surprise you with restraint and/or dignity. I’ll speak about men, and their trouble, with conviction. Sometimes I’ll speak about my author, too, about Jaclyn — or Jaci if I’m in a casual mood — and I’ll speak of her with tenderness when I do. I’ll speak of her in a soft, soft voice, for she is bruised, at the moment, bruised as an apple that has fallen from a shopping bag and tumbled helter-skelter down the street.
I suspect I couldn't sail, even if I tried — but if I had a peach there would be two of us. Me, and the peach.


Years ago, I wrote a short story and I told a friend that I’d written a short story but it’s bad, I said, it’s terrible.
That’s good, he said. Which surprised me.
It’s out now, he explained. It was in your mind there, clogging up your mind, so now that it’s out, you can write a masterpiece.
Thanks, I said.


We are walking up the hill in the dark. Charlie is wearing his green jacket. It’s a simple green jacket with a hood, and the number 8 on the front.

‘And one day I’ll go to a party,’ he is saying, ‘and I’ll wear this jacket, won't I?!’
‘And I’ll put the hood on and everyone will think that I’m a giant squid, won't they?!’
‘They sure will!’