Discuss the quote: “a tip for young writers: You should live in a tiny room with no internet. The tiny room should be one block from 7-eleven. The internet should exist in a building three blocks from your tiny room. The internet is only open 9am to 6pm Monday through Friday. Sometimes on the weekend it will be open 11am to 4pm. When you feel sad drink a sixty-four ounce big gulp cup of fountain soda and eat a krispy kreme donut. If it is 3am and you can’t sleep walk to 7-eleven, grab a handful of the free magazines outside the entrance, roll up two or three of the magazines, put the rolled-up magazines inside an empty big gulp cup, add soda, pay for your beverage, go home, read the magazines, suck on wet pages after you read them.”
I think people who write tips for young writers can go fuck themselves, and then write up their tips for young writers. This is because everyone is less verbose after they have sex. You want to say things in as few words as possible and then go back to thinking about your lay.
The place for a young writer is out in the world running around, turning things upside down and generally making a mess. Then a trip to the liquor store, wink at the store girl while you slip her a tip, back to the room and headphones on. You are in your own world when you put headphones on.
We thank Bach for this music, we thank the Lord for this food, and we thank ourselves after we get some words on the page.
Sometimes external circumstances are not so consistent with the inner urge to write. Some writers spend their lives eking out a living at the border of these opposing forces, others revel in them and go off to Africa to write. If it works for you, go off to Africa to write, but if it doesn’t then come back. The important part is putting words on paper so do it in the bathroom with your pants down and your notebook balanced on one thigh and your dick winking at you between your legs, if that works for you.
I don’t know if the whole thing with the tiny room and 7-11 would work for me. I’d turn it into a chill room with bunks and a giant hookah in the middle and really long hookah tubes that go all the way up to the farthest bunk. I’d disconnect the smoke detector first and buy a fire extinguisher for the room, just in case. Then my friend Jordan would come by with some speakers and a sub, some wires, a record player and some sick LPs. Time to listen to John Coltrane. We’d put some posters up to inspire ourselves with in our vacant hours, some Miles Davis comes on the sound-system and everything’s looking good. Wanna get some grub, guys? We make a trip to that 7-11, I get a big bottle of Coke and some hummus and pita chips while J and the guys steal a bunch of ice-cream and other drinks. Someone knows someone who’s 21 so there’s a trip to the liquor store and things are getting exciting. We head back to headquarters and it’s time to gather the girls round and maybe shower before the big party starts.
Meanwhile someone made a trip to their dorm where they have a beer pong table and brought it over. I shout out generally to the room, Someone get off their ass and buy cups and balls from the 7-11. Nobody moves for about a minute but then Pete and his girlfriend, who’ve been getting heavy in a corner for a while, get up and volunteer. They don’t come back for 45 minutes but nobody really notices, and the main thing is that they have the red cups and balls. Time for a beer pong tournament.
Anyway you know how it goes, every game takes too much goddamn time and it’s time to do shots. Several groups of people have dropped in and broken off already, and the whir of conversation mixes with the music and smoke and vaporized ethanol. It’s a happy time and things aren’t looking to end soon. I need a breath of fresh air so I grab K by the arm so we can take a walk and kiss a little. We go down to the 7-11 again and I buy orange juice and she buys chewing gum. What the hell are you buying chewing gum for? I ask her, and she responds by putting one in her mouth. I take one and put it in my mouth too. We go outside and I open the bottle of OJ with my teeth. I take a long swig. Does that taste weird with the gum? she asks me. It does. We walk around and kiss a little and then we go back in.
I put the OJ in my mini-fridge. Some people have cleared some space in the middle of the room and changed the playlist on my computer. It’s time to dance. There’s something really energizing about a small pit of people dancing in half-dark in a space that’s way too small for it. This is how airborne communicable diseases stay in the population. I dance with K for a while but she has to work tomorrow morning at the lab and has to go home now. Can I walk you home? I ask, and she smiles yes. So it’s out the door and down the stairs again.
We pass the 7-11 on the way to her place and the kid who sits at the counter 9-midnight is just coming out. Hey Jeff, how’s it going? I shout. Pretty good, he says, where are you guys off to? he comes over and says. Well, I was just going to walk this pretty lady back home, but there’s a party in my room that’s still going.
Well, he says, I’m pretty fucking tired, but I’ll check it out. Do you have booze?
I certainly do, I say, some potato nectar and the standard mixers. That convinces him, and he heads towards my building, and that’s that. K and I keep walking. I like to hold her hand now, and when I need to get something from my pocket I’ll take hers with mine. She knows which pocket the wallet goes into, where the cellphone is and whether I forgot the keys at home. Why didn’t you tell me I forgot the keys if you knew? I’d ask her, and she’d just laugh. We get to her place and I kiss her goodbye and goodnight, you stupid cunt, and I love you.
I walk back home thinking about things and observing the peculiar phenomenon of lighting by monochrome sodium lamps. The edges of the shadows are less fuzzy and chromatic aberrations at diffracting edges are gone. I close one eye and try to lose my sense of depth. A far-off rectangle is the door to my building, and the change in my visual field is that it is growing in size smoothly until it takes up all my vision and I can see the pits and scratches on its painted wood.
Upstairs things are still going strong but I’m getting a little tired. Everyone needs to get the fuck outta here, I shout, and nobody gives a fuck. So I unplug the speakers and say it again, and everyone mumble-mumbles and picks up their jackets from the floor and starts leaving. The lights are already off from the dancing and I crawl into my bed and get into my sheets. Suddenly I hear movement in the corner. Pete and Dorothy are curled up on the bean-bag spooning. Can we stay here for the night? she asks sleepily. And I love Pete and Dorothy to bits so I sigh and say, Oh all right. There’s extra blankets in the suitcase.
Ugh, that’s so far away, says Dorothy, and I just shrug in the dark not saying anything. She gets up after a minute and rustles around in the suitcase. She can’t find it. The cellphone’s on the table, I say, so she picks it up and uses the light from the cellphone. She finally finds the blankets and goes back to the bean-bag and spreads it over both of them. I lie on my back and stare at the underside of the bunk above my bed. If I were in the army these would be my barracks, I think to myself in the dark. Eventually I fall asleep.
Next morning Dorothy shakes me awake crying. Pete is gone. Pete broke up with me, she says.
Between now and last night? I say, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.
He left a note, she says. Look, I’ll show you.
You have been a constant in my life for far too long. I know you inside out and you know me outside in and between the two of us we have too much common ground covered far too well. Great winds of change are blowing in my sails and I lack the timidity to look back. Every Dorothy must leave her Kansas. I am BREAKING UP WITH YOU.
The last four words were capitalized and smudged with what I assumed were Dorothy’s tears.
This is preposterous, I said to her. I took her into my arms and hugged her and we sat there together for a while. Smelling her hair, I said, Do you want me to fight him for you? I’ll fight him for you.
Mmm-hmm she said into my shoulder. So we got up and I put pants on and she changed out of her negligee (she always keeps a spare change and night-clothes here) and we put on shoes and hunted Pete down. Pete was in the basement of the Economics Department grading homeworks.
You and I have a quarrel that I invite you to take outside, I told him, so he put his papers away and took his glasses off, rolled up his shirtsleeves and took a bathroom break. This I thought was an eminently sound idea so I went with him.
So how’s it going other than her? I asked him.
Pretty good, he said, it’s going be a pretty light week for me. I don’t have a paper due until Friday next week.
We zipped back up and washed our hands and climbed up the stairs and out the door. The Sun was hammering the asphalt with yellow fury and I gave him one straight in the solar plexus right away.
Oof, he cried and backed away a few steps. He crouched into a fighting stance and started swinging low and fast. I didn’t really try to block him and let him get a few in while he tired himself out. Then I rushed him with a bear hug, put my arms behind his back and grabbed the back of his head by his hair and pulled hard. AAAAOOOOoo, he screamed like a girl and Dorothy laughed, watching.
Finally he gave up and we sat on our asses on the asphalt laughing about it. I was pumped from winning. Wanna get food? I asked them, so we went to the breakfast diner next to the 7-11 and got bacon and eggs and hash-browns and coffee and OJ.
So are you really breaking up with her? I asked Pete, and first he looked at me and then he looked at her for much longer. I love you, he said to her, and she smiled back yes and said, I love you back, Peter. I made a face and said, Be careful of the cooties, young boys and girls, and so they made up again by kissing over the table with egg in their mouths.
I finished my breakfast and downed the coffee in one big gulp and got another cappuccino to go. I trudged back to the building and climbed up the stairs and jumped back on my bed to and began to figure out what I was going to do with the day. Is there anything going on tonight? I wondered, because if it wasn’t I was going to make it happen here in my tiny little room for young writers.
The point is that I wouldn’t get anything written, and it is far too often that life intrudes. K gets off from work at 2, so I need to find something to do until then. I guess I’ll write about last night — not that anything happened last night — nothing of consequence, nothing worthy of consideration. Sentences begin to form at my fingertips even though my head is still recovering from the hangover. I sip my coffee. Time to put words on the page.