Dear Mr Grapes,
Hello. How are you today? My great-great-great grandson is in your
Method Writing class. Last night, in dreams, he spoke aloud these
words “Jack! I’m confused. Do you still want me to write like me like you told me 2 weeks ago, after I read?” This morning he’s staring at his computer screen like a vegetable. Any words will be appreciated, and we’ll pass them on.
I’m glad to see you’re showing such concern for your great-great-great grandson. Since you’ve lived so much longer than your great-great-great grandson, you’ve probably accumulated enough wisdom to already know what I’m about to relay to you. But for the record, you can tell Casey that sometimes when one is walking the trails of the wilderness, it’s good to look up from one’s feet and see the expanse that lies all around you. Tell Casey that he looks too much at his feet. I remember hiking up Devil’s Canyon about 40 years ago with my friend Allan Yasnyi in the pouring rain, heavy 60 pound backpack getting heavier by the minute, one switchback after another, from South-side facing to North-side facing, and all I could see were my feet, trudging one step after another. Then I looked up, through the thick heavy gray curtain of rain and marveled at what I saw. I stood there and looked for a long time. This is why I came here, I thought, not to look at my feet, but to scan the vista of this beautiful wilderness, even in the rain, even in the cold, even in this drop-dead exhaustion. Devil’s Canyon is what they call a reverse hike, down and up, down and up, and the down is easy and the up very steep and exhausting, with the trail winding around steep-sloping mountain sides. The trail gets a little narrow at some points, with steep drop offs into the canyon below. You gotta be careful. Can’t let the weight of your pack tilt you toward the edge and down the ravine. At the bottom is Devil’s Canyon Creek, a beautiful river, and if you follow that you end up at Devil’s Canyon Falls. So at that point when I stopped in the rain to look out from the South slope, I could see the beautiful Douglas-firs sharing space with huge colonies of white sage and purple night-shade as well. Most would be awe-struck by this view in the sunshine, but through that thick cold mist and rain, god, it was spectacular, and today, I can not only see it in my mind’s eye, I can feel the cold and the rain and how utterly exhausted I was, and how I stopped to see it and take it in. At that moment, how glad I was to be alive. In the middle of that difficult moment, yearning for my bed back home, how glad I was NOT to be in my bed, but out here, fully fully alive. And I thought, I’ll never be able to write about this. And I let go of that as well. Just look, I thought. Experience it.
So Augustus, tell your great great great grandson that he thinks too much. Writing is simple. It’s one step after another, one word after another, but with one’s eyes on the vista around and ahead of you, not those muddy boots you’re wearing. Okay, sometimes it’s okay to look at the boots. Truth be told, when sitting around the campfire at night after sleeping bag has been rolled out and freeze-dried food eaten, I’ve been prone to exclaim, “I love my boots!” But the boots carry you, they are not the destination, nor are they the destined vision of your trek. If you’re doing an exercise or a poet or some other fakackta assignment, do the assignment one word at a time and get out of your fucking way. Every minute you spend thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking about writing is a waste of creative quantum consciousness. You and your writing are not so important. The expanse of wilderness beyond your vision is important. But if you get stuck in the consciousness of your boots, you will end up seeing nothing. What you write is not important. YOU are not that important. Be one with the wilderness and write. Trees don’t contemplate their leaves and mountains don’t contemplate their stones and the stones don’t contemplate the soil they nestle in. Quit all your double think me think I think who think what think. Write the words. Quit fucking around. This is not about the product, but about the process. This is not about the object of our love, but the essence of that love we send out into the world one word after the other. Drop the bullshit and write. Then get a good night’s sleep.