The real problem, of course, is that the ideas don’t stop coming. Everything I see can be pounded into a story. It taxes me. All the old new things, the lives lived around me, on either side of me, front and back of me, the thick paragraphs in books and the emotions caught in filmic light, every howl in the face of injustice, every loving nuzzle, it inspires. It’s exhausting. There isn’t enough fuel in my writing hand or in my writer’s mind. Not enough ink. Not enough time. What forests would be swallowed by my first drafts alone?

And so, finally, I sit and get to carving on a single idea. This is it, the one, I decide. But god forbid I take a break to talk to the landlord who comes to change the outside security light, or meander during a pause in the flow to lounge on the couch with my woman for a little distraction, or crack some mediocre magazine, else thirty more ideas spring from hiding. And what then? Do I leave them to die like fish out of water, flapping at my feet? Do I take up the cause of each and every one and achieve victory for none? Do I take a fast train through every country I’ve ever known and never get off at any station, watching good trails up mysterious mountains roll by unexplored? Or do I do what I do and hardly end up writing anything at all, putting pen to paper only when I’m told to by a person with a checkbook, so that every story I’ve finally wrestled to the ground in my time is first born not from original inspiration, but from obligation?

Years ago I began writing about my time as a young father. A story I had hoped in the end would be about generational sins. A story that would be, on the page, about my failures, but truly, underneath the words, about my own father and his father and his and so on.

Years ago I began a science fiction story about a mother in an alien culture who loses her children during an exotic Jovian birthing ritual. It was to be a domestic epic about the mystery of maternalism and the pressures of society and nature over a women’s reproductive cycle by way of 1930’s pulp adventure tales.

Years ago I started to tell a story of the time I was a day-laborer and partnered with a barrel-chested Mexican with big hands who painted copies of Picassos at night in his tiny apartment where he lived alone and whose name I can no longer remember. He once pulled a gun on another orange vested worker who meant to do me harm. The story was supposed to be about the kinds of people that bend their backs for a dollar. The kinds of backs civilization is built on top of. The story was supposed to ring with personal guilt, tuned to a feeling that I had left him behind to toil and construct and dig while I ran off to the air-conditioned life of a writer. Any kind of writer, even a joke of a writer would do, as it turned out.

Years ago and years ago and years ago I started stories and stories and stories.

They all wait to be finished. They live only in some kind of early morning haze. Buried under a thousand other ideas. Their original heft forgotten. The space they occupied in my mind filled by other things. Lost lovers I only vaguely remember having loved.

Even my paragraphs here are engorged. Mixed. Anxious. Stumbling. Comparison to comparison. Too excited and overwhelmed to be concisely crafted.

What can I possibly be expected to do with all of these ideas, with the daily deluge of them?

Except for nothing at all?

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Journal, Writing


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