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Today, even with the rain, everything is off in the world. Nothing is aligned, the horizons are wonky and everyone seems to have a sharp edge or prickles.
The rain started an hour ago and is still falling heavily. It’s been dry now for weeks and the relief is tangible, a lifting of a weight from his mind. The view from the window is not much. A few windows of houses opposite - all looking sleepy and uninhabited - even though he knows the people who live in these places. Perhaps they are at work, sleeping in late or nursing hangovers. In front of him on the table, a cup of black coffee, a pen, and an open notebook. He hasn’t touched any of these things. The coffee is as cold as the ideas to write down in the book. But he’s okay. This is the time of frustration, but because of the rain, there is a certain solace to the scene - almost as if he can rise above it and look down and appreciate his situation.
He wonders whether it matters that nothing is being written, whether, as he looks down, there is the given that this is a writer, someone who has talent and ability. Someone who is struggling with his craft but at any moment will break into a frenzied pen attack, lashing down line after line of the most sublime prose. The scene is set. But the players have forgotten to attend.
He thinks about the other writers to whom he aspires, and whether it came any easier to them. Did they need all of his schemes and systems in place to be able to write - or did it just come naturally, is he wrong with his idea that anyone can do anything given practice, some direction, and motivation? Today, he wasn’t so sure. The truth is, he’d never been sure. Maybe people were just wired up to be able to write, to find the right words, to have a thesaurus in their brains. Maybe they could picture in metaphor and simile.
A car sweeps down the road, its tyres displacing the water that is lying on the surface. The guy in the car is vaping, and an enormous cloud of smoke billows from the crack in the window that he opened for the purpose. It reminds him of an old steam train, chugging down the road, apart from the sickly sweet smell that usually follows and envelopes vapers.
Today, even with the rain, everything is off in the world. Nothing is aligned, the horizons are wonky and everyone seems to have a sharp edge or prickles. He can feel it in all the very few people who he sees going past him. The postman, the old lady with her shopping basket on wheels, the teenager smoking like it’s his first ever. They are all tucked up and miserable. How strange that the rain creates this mood on the outside and a totally different one on the inside,
Across the way, a curtain twitches, and he sees the middle-aged woman who lives across from him. She is in her housecoat and looks like she’s just got out of bed, even though it is 3 pm. She tugs at her belt to tighten the silk fabric across her chest, out of instinct rather than modesty, as she clocks him. He averts his eyes, even though he desperately wants to look and when he does raise them, she is no longer there. A light goes on downstairs in her house. A cup of tea, perhaps. He looks at his coffee. A scum-like film has formed, maybe dust, maybe oil from the beans, it looks cold. How can it ‘look’ cold, he wonders - but his touch to the side of the cup confirms what he already knows.
He could make another. Leave this desk. Be inspired by downstairs. But he knows every inch of the process of standing, taking the cup, turning, walking down stairs, filling the kettle, the noise of the switch, the noise of the water boiling, the exact moment when it clicks off ready. The 30-second wait to pour - someone once told him that boiling water scorches coffee - he wondered if that also applies to instant or just real fresh coffee. No, he will stay here. He will wait. Two hours of writing a day. So far, not one single word.
Cornwall 2012, Nikon FM2
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