All of you who write for money, pleasure or both, have heard the tired advice.
Write. Even on the days and during the hours when no words call to you, write.
You won’t write well every day. Sometimes what you write will be worthy of the trashcan. But write, or else lose the habit. Lose the habit and the talent will follow your still fingers to the grave.
So this morning I tap away here just to keep my fingers loose and my mind held tight in place. Too many true pictures invade my vision to allow my imagination its proper place.
Two days ago, I visited a fatigued physician who works miracles in a crowded city. He took me under with mellow medication and slipped a camera down my throat. “All looks good,” he told me afterward, although I felt my head slide back along the wall as he spoke.
I waited until the next morning to read his explanatory report, and for a short while after reading I felt a current of relief run through my veins. Over the past few months, however, I’ve discovered that such relief runs a short course, and next returns the tension of anticipation as the hour approaches for another visit with a different physician whose interpretation oftentimes clashes with that of his colleague. Nothing different there; nothing different from my own experience with my own profession of the past thirty-seven years. Ask one so-called professional to diagnose you or one of your your offspring, and receive no more than one opinion, an opinion upon which you had best not base your decision as to treatment. Good intentions won’t extend a man’s life.
If you’ve been reading me here, then you know of the long application that sits on my desk. Yesterday, I filled out the first draft of responses, called a counselor who answered lingering doubts I owned regarding what I should scribble on this line or that. I am now ready to transfer my scratched notes to the “official” forms and then submit the total. Still, the personal repercussions of this submission haunt me and leave me sleepless. The radical adjustments, in terms of finances and relationships, hold my fingers stiff again. Maybe tomorrow, then, I will submit the package. Maybe the following day. Maybe, maybe; I am exhausted with maybe.
When I was a young man, I traveled from one shoreline to another. I found a new, old room where I landed. I sewed together patches of cloth — cloth of different colors and textures — and I survived. Youth provided me with time and confidence that I no longer own. This time round the cloth feels worn to the touch. This year the hair on my head grows thinner and more grey. This moment the loneliness swallows what a long-ago hollowness could not reach.
I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to afford this feeble, but expensive, connection to readers. I may, in a few months’ time, be forced to return to the private life all writers once enjoyed and suffered. Tap . . . tap . . . push and print.
But push I will.
If I can maintain my health, then I will keep: my camera, my flicker of dreams, my fingers and my desire to move them.