Saturday, March 29, 2014

It was surely an ice age. But today, it's spring

It's spring.

The aspens are bright and silver.

The month just passed seems certainly to have been an ice age, whose remnants still linger, there under the hemlocks, the pines, the tamaracks along the Holland River where I walk on the Tom Taylor Trail.

I am walking just behind a  group led by bicyclist  called Fish, from the other cyclists who keep calling out to him. He is eighty and can pass for sixty, younger even, for though his face is parchment, his fine legs are ageless as he easily rounds the corner of the bikepath and turns his helmeted head to urge the rest of of his troupe  on.

They seem  an eclectic crew.
They have slowed a bit, and I am almost caught up to them.
The effort of biking had freed them, it seems,  from pedalling against another load, a pushcart full of pain that many of us had been  walking and now pedalling against, often back-pedalling against the awful weight of it all. It seems to me today that  everybody in the group is pushing or carrying something.

Baggage from another marriage, the great sprawling novel that would not come to life, the smoky air of Seventies barrooms, the first adrenalin rush of a heroin injection.

There is the real hope of a steamer on the horizon--that we shall be rescued from this Raft of the Medusa by a jovial, somehow Germanic sea captain.
Yet one must be chary of such a notion.

Recovery is miraculous and dramatic. It may come this spring or it may not. The local Indians will tell you it is all on the whim of the Creator.
In the meantime the Indians will tell you to stay away from waterfalls, great confluences of water. And large lakes, like Simcoe, for there is an ogepoge in each one, each with its own monster.

The  cyclists ride side-by side. Then uncouple to ride alongside somebody else. 
What has brought us all  to this bikepath, along this river, along these aspens, along these tamaracks that seem to the greenhorn like so many reddened, discarded Christmas trees--but they are not, for these conifers will regain their needles and will again be bright green and bushy. Hopefully like us.
The cyclists have now paused, and  I am talking to a woman already in capri pants and white adidas.

Like me this spring, she is a little whimsical and vulnerable and kind of shy. But she had been pedalling  in there pedalling for all she's worth, like and out-of-luck teenager pushing a baby carriage, which, back home, is probably the case. She is trusting to God and good people.

The people are still good, but this is a dark age and the liberal sentiment says one thing and does another. They have stolen a large portion of the welfare money. Stolen. Yes. Mafia Miltie. Don't kid yourself. Fiddling with welfare funds is the first sign of Tony Soprano getting a cut. Meanwhile, our cyclist, whose name might by Rosie Quackenbush, puts on a brave and pretty face, gulps air and pedals on.

I move on to still nother  another party of cyclists.

An entire family. Father a little bulgy with the Speedo. Helmetted mother in ski pants and a yellow top. Little ginger-haired daughter in shorts and sandals doughtily holding up the rear.

We are all , moving, now past the tree, past the bird, past the little piles of discarded green potter's clay and other small bits of rubbish along the Holland, where they have just refurbished some condos. Yet the river may yet regain the flats!

The nearness of water and bright greenery here and there have given us hope for another, better season.

Ahead of us all now, there is the ringing of Fish's bell. He has seen something on the path, which turns out to be a snapping turtle the size of a Humvee wheel. It moves slowly, methodically out of the way, its fast, avian beginnings completely evolutioned-out over the billions of years, leaving just a mechanical crawl and a beak, which, like a construction backhoe, seems to droop a little before snapping up something. It takes the turtle a long time to get off the asphalt path.

Fish rings the bell again. We can go on.

He rings now, I suppose for spring.

And I suppose like the turtle we have just passed,

We get this sense of knowing.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Treating writing as a business



I'm gonna write this real fast, because the computer in my head   is full of little viruses,  quirks, and family anxieties making it hard to focus on the tough discipline of writing..
My intention had been to discuss what happens to a writer when he or she achieves the lifelong goal of getting something into print, between covers with your name on it.

According to one author, almost nothing.
Enjoy the rush and go on to the next book.
...And make money.
Writing is a business, and it should be treated like a business.

Well, yippie shit. I had been in that business for about forty years

I remember doing my writing on the vinyl-covered kitchen table, hating every moment of it--but it was the only thing I could do half-right and at the end of the night, I'd have a magazine piece worth $750 oldfashioned dollars, and if I screwed it up they would still give me a thousand dollar "kill
fee, with the pretense that they would eventually bring my work forward--BF, they called it, but you knew too damn well that it would be marked NG for "no good" and they would never publish it.

Landlady says,"What kind of an asshole gets $750 for getting a story rejected?"
Well, in the anals of history...

But those were the days of being a salaried freelancer and when you'd been a name, and editors were jumping all over each other to steal you from John Bassett, my publisher at the time.
Those days are gone. There is a new crew now, computer literate, smart, and treating their writing like a busines--which, in my opinion, it is not.

It is a muscle, a reflex, somewhat like sex. Use it or lose it.
Migod, I think I have just screwed this blog.  :)