May 22, 2007

Vertigo

Lunched with folks and sat in their garden. Heard me on the radio doing ‘Desert Island Discs’. Not bad, really. Voice came over a bit common and pouffy.

Kenneth Williams
Diary Entry
May 22, 1962


1. Last week, a few days after a workshop, I finished another story. I had humble little dizzy spells whenever I stood from the seat before the PC. Romantically, I thought it was a writer thing, and that my story of pages had such force to throw me into vertigo. But it could have been the weather.

2. Szymborska hit it sidewise but right on the head when she said in her Nobel Prize acceptance speect that it would not be pleasant to make a movie about the writer, especially if we were going to be authentic with the depiction of the writer in process. I mean, it’s wonderful to watch Ed Harris play Pollock over the expanse of his canvasses. It’s lovely when you see him hit on the idea. But a writer?

3. Everybody hates hearing writers talk. Writers hate this most of all. That is, except when they’re hearing themselves.

4. Great to see dancers, singers, and of course movies about actors (one on Peter Sellers comes to mind). Entertainment value for your money. But a writer? It’s all snot and throwing things and not catching things.

5. Last year, I invented another author just to watch me write. In less than an hour – less, mind you – he dissolved into tedium. To this day, I suspect he uninvented himself. My friend, a sculptor, he said that rather than waste time on a Galatea, he made another Pygmalion in his own likeness. The Pygmalion knelt enrapt at every stroke of his hammer, every choice angle of his chisel. Solid awe. Good for you, I said. But for a writer, what?

6. I finished a couple of pages that agree with me. I nodded at them, they nodded at me. Hung them out to dry in my Friendster blog where they wouldn’t stop nodding. I turned up the volume of the Media Player and, as I suspected, the pages were head-banging. I quit all applications and stood to erase myself with work on the syllabus that waited on the table. What do you know! I lost so much balance I had to pawn my head, and quickly, before I fell. But if it was a gamble, it did not pay off.

7. Good writers, they get their readers to swirl down vertigo. Bad writers, dance by themselves on the way down.

8. Once there was a girl who I forbid to meet me after ROTC training. Even without mentioning Eve and Pandora, you would know she eventually did come to see me. And when she kissed me after my six hours of dust and sweat and odors, the thought of marriage occurred to me. Another girl watched me write. After I cursed her for disrupting the flow, she kissed me. I had brochures, and I most courteously asked her to consider an asylum.

9. It’s bad for writers. They work a great deal behind the reel, but they don’t get to cut a pretty figure out front. Bad for the whole lot of them: but how would I know?