Thirty- three years ago, on an unusually bright January day, I decided to stop teaching and become a real writer, not a teacher of writing.
Seemed like a good idea at the time. I was nearing forty, the deadline decade; I was meeting all my turtles, the once- fastest rabbit (mouth?) in town and though having a million words in print, these were in column form and I was not sure if that really counted. I had in print one small novel, "The Black Icon", which was published, of all places by the Bradford Witness Publishing Company, ON.
People would ask, "Are you a Jehovas'? You gonna stick your foot in my door and tell me to awake? You hear the one about the scion of a Jehova's Wintess and a biker, who comes to the door and tells you to f*ck off?
Enough that I didn't feel very authentic. So I quit my job at the college, surrendered the vows, left my wife (who was probably glad to get the crazy bastard and his beer bottles out; there had been issues) and made for the place where the writers go. Mexico. Cuernavaca. Crooked horn. And yes, after a spell there I was somewhat bent and wastin' away in Margaritaville, forget the manuscript and the vows, foxy chicks gotta get, foxy psychotics from California telling me to get in touch with my feelings, American woman, stay away from me. Ah, but she bagged the fool, and if you sleep with somebody crazy you'll end up crazy too, and soon I was "getting in touch with my feelings" tried to get away but she followed me all the way to San Miguel de Allende, where I soon discovered that I had drip to my whistle and thinking of that old limerick, "Since I met your lovely daughter/ I've had trouble passing water".
A damsel with a dose. This was not getting the Great Canadian novel done. Letter from the poor wife. "Whatcha doin', McLuhan? --"Shrew and the kids." Behaving badly.. How many novels on behaving badly?
A Fan's Notes
All of Burroughs.
My novel came out, eventually. The Fire in Bradford, but as my impoverished banker and sp0nsor was to tell me, "Ivan, the fire was in your pants and not in Bradford. And, he added after a few drinks, "Your asshole is in Ottawa".
Behaving badly. Jerry Rubin:" If it feels good, do it." Ah but there were reasons for the odyssey. There had been a problem with my poor foo-foo valve. Doctor had said it was nasty and the antibotics weren't getting it. Well, with sunlight and marathon sex, one did repair ones foo-foo valve, but at what cost? Ragged Dick the Match Boy. Always the Horatio Alger follower. "Give you a bully shine, Sir" rags to riches all my life and now surely on the road back to rags. I think there was a movie made of this, titled "The Jerk".
Standing today in front of the bookstore where I'd made me decision to chuck it all and become a writer. Meeting herds and herds of my turtles as the passed the maddened hare. Someone taps me on the shoulder.
"I read your book," said the stranger, who turned out to be a bus driver in Toronto.
Hah. Speedy mercurial figure. "I read your book. It's a knockout." Wow. Hey....If you can reach one person... But the hell and high water to get there. Do you have to be a devil to get your halo? Surely felt like hell going through the process of the novel/autobiography. And damn it all, it seems like it was all somehow worth it.