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When one is story

Sunday 9/19/21

A letter this morning to the IC:


“When focus fails, purpose falters,” her father used to say. She’d been, and always been, so proud of him that he’d come up with it on his own. She checked. It could have been from the Constitution. He’d had his own wave for a long time. His dad wave, made of purple water, because a wise wave knew that purple was valorous."

Why do I love this story, which is called "The Trellis Wave," like I do? Because I love it as much as I can possibly love a work of art, I think. It's the 318th story I've written since June 2018. I wrote it yesterday while I was also writing these posts--which are themselves feature-length--for my stint as guest contributor on Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 blog.

I wrote it, and I set it aside. I texted someone about "Carpet Dragons," from a couple days back, which I know is a masterpiece. And I'd added something about how I'd just written another story, but I didn't know how good it was.

That's sort of just something I say. There are different feelings I have about my work, which I've shared with you. For instance, when I wrote "Fitty" and "Upon Becoming a Ghost," I knew. I mean, I knew, believe me. I knew right away that here was art for all-time. I feel like that's an understatement. I knew more than that, let us say.

Simultaneously, I know when I do what I do, what is going to be there in the end. Every time. When I am me and I see it through.

That's really the biggest advantage I have over everyone, if you had to rate them, I'd say. People have to try to write. To be something they're not. Reach for a level they're not on. They do that predictable Bunker Hill Creative Writing 101 voice. Their writing is a form of wishing, posing, straining, costuming.


I simply have to be. Do you understand what I mean? I don't mean I do autobiography. Look at these thousands of characters now. They're obviously not sourced from my life. But I am story. When one is story, one simply needs to be. When one has genius, and has mastered that genius, it becomes so easy.

So that's what I was texting this person about. Playing devil's advocate, in a way. Could it really be so easy and effortless to create something great and eternal? Seems like that wouldn't be possible, right? Or at least not every time out.

How did I write this story? What was the idea? How long had I had it? There was no idea. There was no time. I created a blank document. Then I made the work. It had no pre-existence prior to that. Not two minutes before.

I put it aside yesterday, went out and ran stairs. Today I got up and completed the third of the five blog posts for this 33 1/3 thing, and I thought I'd see to two stories I just wrote, which need their finishing, or their fixing, or whatever it is, when I decided to open this one, just because it was the most recent, I guess. Though it was probably more random than that.

I started to change it. But right away I was so struck. I'd never seen a tone like this, or a story that looked, in my memory, as so simple, to have such ambition when it came to life, truth, the mysteries of life, and communicating the non-mystery behind those mysteries.

When I say communicating, I mean making us feel those "answers," and making us think about them--on some level. Making us know--on some level. Getting that into another human, if you will. Making it part of them, like you're making this delivery. You have the package, the shipment, the goods, and you turn up, drive into them, put the shipment where it needs to be, so that it's there, and then you drive off again. That last part is otherwise known as "the end."

The stuff that was new--the Constitution, the purple, bunch of other things. The tone--the voice--was further cultivated. But immediately as I started work again, I was moved to tears. And I thought, "why is this having such an impact on me, I just got here?"

That's not a conscious thought, I guess. It's something I'm aware of, because I'm in the orbit of the power, if that makes sense. I am pulled in. I realize that is happening, and I realize there must be reasons. Then, of course, I am made aware of them quickly in the story. I identity them, as they've identified me, in some ways.

And this thing that I thought--at least conversationally--might have been a "whatever"--though I also knew this wasn't true--reveals itself to me as a work of art as strong as anything I've done upon this earth.

It's good. You're going to want to read it.


No tsunami was to be seen on the horizon, or out under the squall clouds, but often the tsunami would sit with her and let out its breath. There were all kinds of ways to be atop that wave. Sometimes it was just a matter of sitting side-by-side before a rainstorm and remembering visits. The times she was the one the one who said, “We should be getting back inside, we can play a board game, we’ll make it fun.” And all of the times subsequently, in the after of life—which only occurs while life continues—that she thought of how easy it was to feel close to somebody—perhaps closest—on a rainy day when you had to be inside. Long before, there’d been an uncle, a big baseball fan, whose preferred team only had two competent mound men. And the uncle would say, “Spahn and Sain, and pray for rain.” She used to pray for rain, too. But she didn’t tell anyone, and it wasn’t because of baseball.