[This is it. The last entry in this round of the Dictionary Project. My plan is to take the month of September to edit some of these pieces and to completely replace others, and then teach myself how to make an ebook of them. So I'll be posting information about that as it develops. I'm also going to be generally slacking off and going to Istanbul and having other adventures, so it may take longer than a month. But I hope not. In any case, here it goes. The last entry.]
“I don’t believe in any of that stuff.”
That’s a bad way to start out, right? It’s the first thing that came to mind, but how cynical and negative, to immediately deny the power and importance of today’s supposed inspiration. As a writer—as any kind of artist, probably, but I am no other kind of artist, and most of the time I am pretty sure I am not even a writer, because writers are driven to write by pure need, by something undeniable inside them busting out through their fingertips, while I am forced to trick the words out once a week by playing this little game—but as at least a sort of a writer, I should be embracing inspiration from everywhere and everything. Those splotches of white paint that led down the sidewalk and curved into the alley and I wanted to follow them Alice-style so bad. The middle-aged lady in the bedazzled black cap who the bus driver pulled over to yell at for jaywalking. The ears of the woman in front of me on the El that had had three earrings ripped from each of them, making her lobes resemble paper torn from a spiral notebook, so now she’s wearing clip-ons. The changing of the guard on the street corners of this neighborhood every morning around 5 a.m., the shady characters of the night, the prostitutes and dealers, giving way to the day laborers and vendedores, and how symmetrical that hand-off is. The view of the city at night from the back of a cab being pulled up Lakeshore Drive with the window open so the wind tangles my hair and dries the tears out of my eyes before they can even really be called tears. The hundreds of people I pass every day, at the coffee shop and on the train and waiting at crosswalks and in elevators, people who I don’t engage with or make eye contact with because that’s not what I do, what I do is shut myself off and keep my eyes to myself and move along. I should be pulling out my pen like I would have at fifteen to write about each and every one of these things. The fact that I am not compelled means something. The fact that I have to use the artificial device of this project means something. But—and here is my tiny secret hope that I buried very very deep and didn’t realize until just now—the fact that I have done it means something too.