He was told a writer does not “get” inspiration, a writer “fetches”, “extracts”, “hunts down” a reason to write and there is no transaction; the urge appears like a hole in the sunrise. This was told to him along a cornice where the river cut a breathing trench in the trees and the body saying it gave him big babbling eyes. He went down into a ravine and up the other side—a ravine with a creek that ran to the river, he noted—wringing out his surroundings like a jungle snake or a nervous hitter. Fuck these wildflowers, he thought.
He tripped on rebar. Sticking from the dust. He tried not to think what the stake was there for, once; he would, instead, fix a knot to the end and toss the yarn down his imagination. But all that came back was jargon: triggered. With connotations of concussive blasts and the inarguable. Perhaps—a character?—who used triggered in the “passive” sense—“I was triggered by X”—when the character—deep down—meant the active—“I in fact triggered X.” I will never write another meaningful letter, he thought.
But what about that, he blurted thumbing sunscreen on his nose: shifting the emphasis of a sentence. I will buy you a book. I will buy you a book. I will buy you a book. And so on. Seven writers, not all friends, assign each sentence randomly—where? why are they together at all?—and must—why must?—start a novel with their version. But the you- and book-scribes switch after making love/having sex/fucking—their first time? These—are the Protagonists. What Events-Decisions-Events ensue? A baby? A disease? Start there, he thought.
Not a murder, he thought. Be strong.
But you are childless and fit. Write what you know.
What do you know?
That sanity is consensus and it is only a quirk of this Reality writers aren’t hospitalized.
He was out of water and parched when he reached the parking lot and sat removing a pebble from his shoe. Personality—could he use plain uninvested terms?—but how did they view it?—how could they? There could be pop. There could be music. References, loaded references. Culture won’t change the truth of a story, he was told. Otherwise it’s commentary. Go write an op-ed. Or sci-fi.
He began methodically walking around his car, each step landing like a slow motion government stamp. He stopped at the sideview mirror, where objects are closer than they appear. On the horizon, in the mirror, he saw cows. Big powerful cows. Barnard. That must be a cow type, he thought. Barnard cows. Closer than they appear, tails pointing this/that way, eyes babbling to no end.