I’m something of a superstitious writer (or perhaps a painfully unskilled one) because I don’t like to have people read an unfinished, unpolished product. I write slowly, methodically and obsessively.
Normally this blood-from-the-brow process, which would’ve made James Joyce (also a famously slow, albeit way more neurotic, writer) tick and squirm with frustration, takes place in the bowels of my office.
But given my new career as a technical writer, my sanctum is now in a state of transition, transforming the office of a freelance writer into a place where teenagers will someday dwell.
The computer upon which I write these maddening musings has been moved to the den and all my little oddities — from the stuffed piranha to my KISS bobbleheads and framed Halloween posters — are no longer sources of dark inspiration. The CDs are tucked away in the closet. Save for the bookcases stuffed with weird titles like “Eat Thy Neighbor: a History of Cannibalism” and “Wrestling with God,” there’s little hint of all the magic that’s happened in that little room over the past three years.
It’s like the “Poltergeist” house after Carol Anne falls from the ceiling all gross and goopy — we know something happened there, we just aren’t sure we ever want to talk about it.
I like writing in the dark, with the door closed. I also chew on pencils. This weird habit has two purposes. First, I smoked for a long time and writing is just about the only time the craving hits. Second, years ago a girl I worked with pointed out to me (as well as the entire newsroom) that when I wrote, I sat with my mouth wide open and looked really stupid.
Thus the pencils …
Anyway, having been away from the kooks in the newsroom for so long, I’ve become a creature of secretive habits — think Gollum with a pop-culture fetish — that really don’t need to be on display. I need a certain mood to create such … well … use your own adjective for these weekly meanderings, but they’re actually harder to write than you might think … seriously. This is hard work.
But instead of having an office of my own with a way to barricade my mind from the family whom I love to pieces — save for when I’m writing — I’m trying to put thoughts together into something resembling hilarity while Jellybean dances and sings to “Mama Mia,” My Lovely Wife cleans up dog vomit and the smell of pot roast is literally making my mouth water.
(Hold that thought … gotta go dance …)
OK, so where was I … oh, whining about having to write from the den.
To tell the truth, for all the complaining — and I promise there’ll be more to come — over the loss of my writerly man-cave, it often did more harm than good. I was isolated from my famil. It was stealing my soul like the box in those Hellraiser movies. I’d go to check an email, emerge two hours later to find the house dark and everyone already in bed.
So if losing the muse means missing out on a metaphor or two, it’ll be an even trade as long as Jellybean saves me a dance.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org