Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Lief out of the Machine



Ah, the nature of the beast.
Why do we writers absolutely burn outselves out, leaving ourselves vulnerable, psychologically unprepared, immune system down--to be absolutely bowled over in any crisis, domestic or work-related.

Thirty years ago, on a bright June day I had completed, in San Miguel Allende, a novel on which I produced 35 pages a day, proof copy. I was glad to place the THE END at the end.

I had been on a regimen of tequila, strong Nescafe, marathon sex to relax, and all kinds of Corona de Baril beer so I could sleep...There wasn't that much sleep, as I had run a cross a nymph at the Jardine, town square. "Are you a Wood Nymph," I asked, half jokingly. "No," she had said. "Just a nymph."

So here is a man going to hell fast, while producing 35 proof pages a day.

No sooner do I complete the book than I get a Dear John from somebody.

Wheeeeee. Whoooooosh. Nininaninaninoona!

"You are crazed," said my mistress.

"I am crazed," I agreed.

Run, don't run. Grab a plane, don't grab a plane. Kick ass. Don't kick ass. One million dollars at stake in bank account and property...And I had to go on this marathon writing thing, leaving myself as weak as light beer.
The wood nymps starts to pour the love on, trying to get me to relax, to pour out the madness, extend it, get me back to myself, whoever that was.

I can not paint, but I was surely Gaugin. Gaugin and his Wahines. Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll and 35 pages a day. Mexico on 35 pages a day.

Bunout

The god wants a price and old Scrooge was coming to collect.

I had given my life for art, whoever the f*ck Art was.

So here we are doing it again, creditors at the door, old partner still wanting to argue and we're trying for 35 pages a day.

It is at this point, probably that the landlord will come knocking, the collection agency guy with a lawyer, my anus will fall off and I'll be signing myself into the jigsaw puzzle assembly plant.

Magnificent obsession.

And leading to where?

Nought.

Nature of the beast.


So here we go with Act II, Scene 3, of THE FIRE IN BRADFORD



Act II

Scene Three


Lights; UP

music in BG; "All My Love's in Vain", by the Rolling Stones. UP, then fade to bg.


Narrator.

Ah, she was on my freqency all right. On my frequency in spades. Or was it the Rolling Stones?


MUSIC: uP.

Well i follwed her to the station
With a suitcase in her hand

Narrator;

Ah, the Stones doing the Robert Johnson, that man who knew of the pathos of life, black but not always blue, a genius, and the Stones ripping him off. Ah, but there are times when Mick can write too. On my frequency, yes.
let's have some frequency modulation.

Music in bg. Segue to "You Can't Always Get What You Want', by the Rolling Stones. From guitar ride to:

I saw her at th reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna make her connection
In her glass there was a footloose man


NARRATOR:Yes, somebody had made Celia into his novel. Somebody has made me ino a novel. Brilliant bastard.
And was I to be the bleeding man at the bottom of Celia's glass?
Ah, that first night with Celia, Lief passed out in the next room...

LIGHTS: up.

Scene: The professor and Celia are still on the same living room set. They are dancing,somewhat intensely to
Robert Johnson's 'All My Love's in Vain', done by the Rolling Stones. They stop when the music stops, and return to the chesterfield.
She begins to unzip the professors fly.
The professor is beginning to wake up, wake up to this tender trap.

Professor: Hey. Hey. What goes on between you and Lief? What is your relationship anyway? You are a married woman after all.

Celia takes a sip of her white wine. She is beautiful. Nice, high forehead. Flesh-coloured lipstick. Blonde hair abob.

Celia; Lief and I have an open marriage. He has male friends. He has female friends. I have female friends. I have male friends.

"You want another drink?"

Professor: "I think I'd better.

BUSINESS: There is a thumping upstairs that startle both the professor and Celia.

Somebody almost falls through a trap door in the ceiling, a naked arm, a flash of genitals.

Professor: What the hell?

Celia, touching the professor's shoulder: Oh don't be startled, David. Lief is upstairs looking for that insurance policy. We are remortgaging the house. None of us have been able to find that old policy. I told him it was up there in the attic somewhere.

Professor; Three a.m. and looking for an insurance policy? I thought Lief had passed out.

Celia (giggling). Tacky, isn't it? Leif and I will drive you home in the morning. You can stay the night.

LIGHTS; Down

..........................End ACT II, Scene 3

6 comments:

cyn said...

whoa! there's nothing like trap doors and a flash of genitals...unless you're walking down broadway. love the characters so far, ivan. =D

ivan said...

Thank you, dear cyn.
...You're the other marathoner on Jaye's book-written-in-a week idea.
I am cheating a little by saying I had to cut out a lot of material to produce proof copy for this play.
But ain't it fun to play?
I'll be checking your blog again.
Exes and O's.

Josie said...

So, Ivan, is this a page from your real life?

You make it sound so real.

Josie

ivan said...

Tell you a story, Josie.
My old writing instructor, Tom Mayer (I tried to google his book,
BUBBLEGUM AND KIPLLING,but could not find)--My old writing instructor could not win an interview with Truman Capote, so he cornered him in a washroom in Chicago. Mr. Capote was having a wee-wee and Tom pipes up and says, appropos of nothing save for the two of them being in adjoining stalls,"Mr. Capote,what were you going on about in that novel of yours, 'The Grass Harp', you know all those little old ladies and all
the fuss they were making about 'you'?"
Said the great little guy:
"Well, you know, thometimes we need a pthychoanalysis."
Well, about the only thing I have in common with Truman Capote--who else could write so well--is the need to every so often give myself a "pthychoanalythis."
The book is fiction, FICTION, I say. Have to to avoid being sued.
But I did have to give myself a
"pthychoanalysis!'

Segue to:
W. Somerset Maugham and his verbal tormentor.
Tormentor: Oh Willie,if I insult you tonight, are you going to go off in a huff, take two years off and write a book about me?"

Some gorgeous witch had me in a huff and I had to do something "and write a book about it."
Outraged vanity? Fire in the professor's pants? I don't know.
...But I'm seriously wearing out my keyboard.
Morgan Fay still has a kick or two left.

EA Monroe said...

Hi Ivan! How's the keyboard holding up? "E" was always the first to go on my typewriters. The Grass Harp was made into a movie -- one of my favorite movies. I do a lot of "pthychoanalysis" in my writing, too. Can't wait for the next installment of your play! The nature of the beast, indeed.

ivan said...

e.a,
Oh, you are a doll!
Came in with a comment just when I wasn't sure whether I was having a cigarette fit or just a mild case of DT's.
Writing tends to calm you down at those times when it is not a tension-making business.
Kind of hard to write these days with the I and E gone--have to pound.
Brings to mind the old typewriter days when you'd be covered in whiteout and erasor rubbings, the machine all jammed up and you were on your best streak--and the fershlugginer machine was bedevilling you.
Goddamn wonder how we did it all and still retained our s-sanity-sanity.
When the going got tough, the tough would get drunk, as would any sane person...Whoops!--here comes Oxy the moron.

Yeah, The Grass Harp did have a certain charm...I think I missed the Seventies altogether, as well as some of the late Sixties--so I didn/t realize there had been a movie made.
There was another play that fascinated me, way, way back. it was about a man reminiscing about his past and his ghostly parents appear with full picnic basket and a trip back in time. Eugene O'neill? Josie can help?
...My own parents used to do that--surprise me in my lonely Toronto apartment, levitating there somehow, no car or apartment key, just being there making a Ukrainian dinner, in my own apartment, when i got home from work from the Star, where, i fear, I wasn't much of a Star. (I went back to the Star years later, just to make my point, was promoted to head of Starweek, a big insert, in just a week and fired just as fast for F8ing up a layout--but not before I got my incongruous monicker on the cover of that TV and entertainment magazine. It was about the 'last' Toronto streetcar.
Unfortunately, Toronto still has streetcars--never let the facts get in the way of a good story, i say.
Talk about our late George Calvert...there were other artists in San Miguel, way, way back. The sculptor Kestembaum and the painter Pinto and another German cat whose name I can't remember.
Ah, i went back thirteen years ago and found San miguel a bit too touristy.
i did get a note or two from Liona Boyd, with whom 'i'd sort of studied. Poor famous lady. I think my stories of dumpster diving and living the life of a rat not too long ago--grossed her right out.
She finally said, 'I can't write.
Well, she sure as hell succeeded as a writer.Her personal memoir,
'In my own key' sold fairly well.
it was about San miguel, in part.
Whoops. The Saturday night luegrass show is on at WNED. Gotta go.
Thanks
ivan