I visited the Writers Center in Gloucester, Mass, for a week. My wife Sylvia was along as well. We were lodged in the modest former home of the late Vincent Ferrini, a friend of Charles Olson’s and a beloved Gloucester poet in his own right. His film-maker nephew Henry Ferrini raised the funds to set up the Writers Center, and my old writer/bookman pal Greg Gibson is on the board.
[Photo by Sylvia Rucker. Note visiting writer recumbent on bed with laptop.]
I gave a lecture on “Transrealism and Beatnik SF” on Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012. We had a reception before my reading—which was held in our lodging. A small crowd, maybe fifteen people. The talk went fine, with good Q&A at the end. I wrote up some notes for the talk in advance, and the next day I posted the audio recording I made during the talk By posting the audio, I reach a few more listeners, like maybe fifty more.
With me living in the cottage at the Writers Center for the week, a few people asked me if I was doing some writing here. As if this stay might be a unique opportunity for me. But of course I write a lot at home—for me, writing is the norm, not the exception. And, as I had my wife along, we were treating it more as a vacation, going out to see Rocky Neck or kayaking or riding on the “pinky” schooner Ardelle or taking the train up to Boston for the day.
But I did worry that I was missing an opportunity to delve deep into my craft. In the past I’ve occasionally dreamed of such a “writers’ colony” opportunity. Walking around the waterfront or sitting in my cottage’s back yard in Gloucester, I managed to jot some ideas onto my folded-in-four pocket-scrap of paper. And then later I typed the scribbles into my writing journal. And I took some nice photos reflecting my fleeting thoughts, like what Alfred Stieglitz called “Equivalents.”
To begin with, I wrote up an outline of my “Transrealism and Beatnik SF” talk in advance. And I did some work on my notes for my next novel, The Big Aha, although these days it’s slow going. Like what is this novel supposed to be about? Also in Gloucester I wrote up some ideas for a story about aliens trapping humans in things that work somewhat like lobster pots. It was great to talk to Greg Gibson about writing—we’ve been writers together for almost fifty years.
I visited anothr writer friend, Paul Di Filippo, in Boston one day. I talked about the lobster pot story with Paul. We were laughing about this disgusting phrase that was stuck in my mind, “bean-hole beans.” It’s in fact a kind of recipe or preparation method, but it sounds so nasty. I have this Tourette streak, where some days I just keep saying a phrase over and over. Bean-hole beans. Possibly this fits into the lobster story. People caught in a bar that’s really a trap and they’re forced down the bean-hole.
So, okay, I didn’t score any wild, ecstatic, six-pages-of-text-at-one-go sessions at the Writers Center. Ideally the text is fiction, but even notes are a rush, if that’s all I can get.
I definitely crave “the narcotic moment of creative bliss,” as the John Malkovich character puts it in the film, Art School Confidential. Soon come. Petition the Muse for long enough and she comes.
Being a visiting writer was a nice exercise, even if I felt a bit like a charlatan. That’s part of the process, too—getting to the point where I feel like I’ve been faking it all these years, and I’ll never write again unless I bear down and do itnow.
And now it’s now. I flew out of Gloucester to visit my brother in Louisville, Kentucky, for a few days. I’m sitting on his country porch with my laptop. The afternoon rain is pouring onto the pastel green fields. I want thunder in the low, gray sky. I want the fierce cracks and lightning stutters in the night.
And meanwhile, telling all this to myself, my fingers are flying. So, yeah, I’m writing. Making a landing-strip for the Muse.
(The original posting of this post can be found at Rudy's blog)