“The book has begun to grow inside me. I am carrying it around with me everywhere I walk through the streets big with child” —Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
Those old Taoists, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and others, warned the student to be weary of the world of the ten thousand things. That was around two and a half thousand years ago in China, so we must be in the world of the million things now, with globalization and the information ocean known as the internet.
Distractions. Distractions. Distractions. The writer who wants to write a new book must be extra vigilant about all those things that will pull him away from the desk, away from the book that waits to be written, away from the story that dangles a little gold thread from the beyond that will unleash the whole book.
The million things: Twitter spats, Twitter twats, Twitter trolls, Twitter polls. Milo’s book deal scandal, the Oscars, Amy Adams’ dress, Denzel shudda won, Halle Berry’s hair, what’s Trump vomiting out of his face today, watch a Sleaford Mods video, Bill Paxton died … what was he again?
Read Wiki on Tolstoy, read a few chapters from War and Peace, flick through that anthology I’m in, read a few poems, BuzzFeed lists, top 100 albums ever, friends’ opinions on Garda corruption, ’80s classics playlist on YouTube, book reviews on YouTube on books you already read and know are good or shite, your friend’s amazing meal at that restaurant you haven’t been to yet (hmm, let’s check out the website, prices), Facebook posts, Facebook debates, Facebook events, book launches, check emails for the seventh time today, check views on my latest video, check Amazon for interesting books, check friend’s Facebook status, check the time. Time. More hours gone. More time lost my dear Missure Proust.
More time not writing the damn book! Time and the River. I think of a conversation two brothers had in a play I seen last week, Dublin Old School. Time is a river, says one. No, time is circular, says the other. I think of time. I think in time. I time. My time. Time to move.
Time to move through time again.
I saunter around the city, through Dublin’s character-driven streets, observe the masses, coffee drinkers, Big-Mac eaters, Tesco picket-liners, homeless men and women, drug addicts, drunks in loud conversation down lanes, buskers singing chart hits and golden oldies, illegal tobacconists, old women bent over and dragging trolleys behind them, fruit-and-veg sellers on Moore Street, rain and wind blow in my face, that’s good, I like it, it tells me I am alive.
I buy chicken fillets from Buckley’s butchers, I meander down and into Chapters bookshop. Aimlessly wandering around the shop, books everywhere, books I’ve read, books I love, books I hate, books I want to read, I am like the expectant mother who watches other mothers’ children at play in the schoolyard and daydreams of her unborn that will one day play here too.
I don’t buy any books. I have too many at home on my shelf that I have not read yet. My book is calling me home. Willing me to leave behind the million things again. Lao Tzu flicks his white beard and booms laughter at my ears and his master’s eye winks knowingly.
I get on the Luas with my shopping and head for home. 800,000 things.
I’m home and home is where the art is. My lover is at work. I check my emails and social media accounts, then turn off the laptop. 400,000 things. Pull the blinds closed. 100,000 things. Make tea. 10,000 things. Chuang Tzu smiles and says, Very good, very good. 5,000 things. I sit on the sofa an take pen and notebook in hand, tea by my side. 1,000 things.
I listen deeply. 100 things. I grip the pen. 10 things. I take down ideas. I write the first lines. One thing. The book kicks. The one thing is the book I am birthing. It has begun.
I have started the ascent upon the Himalayas. I look at the mountain and take the first step.