Leaping Deltoid Plants

An Anaheim Morning.

I should get a job as a night watchman. I feel like I'm up most of the night walking back and forth to the bathroom. I should at least be paid minimum wage and get to carry a clock and a key, and of course, a hat. Then I'd just walked around the old customs warehouse until somebody hit me from behind with a blackjack. Then they'd back the truck up and take all the stuff marked "fragile" because that's where the conflict diamonds from Los Pobres Gatos were hidden among cheap stoneware vases. Every night, the same thing; walk, check, bang, wake up, fill out paperwork. "You better go home and get some rest, Jack. We'll see you tonight." "Thanks, Lonnie. Yeah, I've got a real headache." "I just bet you do." (they both laugh and wave).

Yeah, maybe I'm better off just staying here and sleeping a little and then going to the bathroom and then sleeping a little more. Overall, it sounds better. Although there is that great retirement plan from the International Watchmen's Union Local 401. I'd be eligible for retirement in just 12 more years, and then, Oh Boy. I could stay home and walk back and forth to the bathroom full time.

OK, we took that cab all the way down to pier. That's what writers call a euphemism. Get it?

So yeah, I'm warming up and now, already I've got mixed feelings about writing the piece. Here's how it goes.

I wrote a couple exercise pieces on character development and a couple people read it, and said, hey, that's pretty good, the way you wrote that story so that it felt like I was there for a minute. So I hear that and I start planning my Pulitzer speech immediately. Then I spend most of yesterday writing another piece, which is supposed to be for practice, but, now, of course, it's for my audience because I obviously don't need practice anymore. I really, really good at writing now. So I finish the piece and think to myself, Hey, that's some hot stuff there. Wait, is that the sound of the NewYorker staff pulling up in front of my house with a giant check? No, it was the guy in the pickup from down the road.

I finished the new piece and put it up on the blog and I go off to bed, like a little kid, waiting for Santa to bring him a pony or a magic set. I don't peek. I'm very still. I dream of all the wonderful things that I'll read in the morning about how the world has changed and there's a new star in the heavens. Of course, they're talking about me (whisper). I'm going to act so tickled and disbelieving. "Me? You mean me? What? You're kidding. Right?" I go on like that for a while. But they all tell me how great the piece is and where do I get ideas from? and I really did this, this masterpiece, in a single day? Unbelievable! and a French guy says "On Croy Obbul." the way they do. Wow, even French guys love the piece. Well I'm set now, Hemingway, Seuss, Vander Beek, right? Wait, Vander Beek, Hemingway, Seuss. Well, fact is, the other two guys can work it out between themselves, I don't want to get mixed up in that.

OK, so what really happens is... wait for it... nothing. There are no comments on the new story, no notes on Facebook. Nothing. Hmmm? How can this be? Maybe they all went to the ER last night? Something they ate. I thought the piece was pretty good. Where did I go wrong? Oh My God! I AM A FAILURE!!! QUEL DOMMAGE! (that means, Oh Shit! in French).

Now I'm warming up for the next round and what I'm thinking is that I need to redouble my efforts. Whatever that means. I've got to write something very much like the first piece so that my audience will LOVE ME again. I need to reach them, reach out to them. They are the only reason I write. I write to be loved.

But wait. The answer may be much easier than that. What if I'm not a genius writer? What if I'm not through with my plan of exercises to learn more about writing? What if I don't have to turn out
publishable stuff right now and from now on?

That is, of course, the answer. I don't have to start making readers happy now, I'm still learning and I need to write practice pieces to learn more about the writing I want to do. People may or may not read any of my stuff and they may like or not. They may comment or not. It can't make any difference to me while I do this. And besides, Why should I expect this project to do any better than the others I've done? Why change the pattern now?

The truth is I like doing this. It's fun. It makes me happy, and it makes me want to get up in the morning and get to work on it.

The pieces will exist after I'm gone for a long time, ignored, discovered, used as an object lesson to those who fail to plan adequately for their own retirement. Let the lesson of this sad, sad sack of shit serve as a wake-up call to all of you. Don't let your undisciplined minds lead you into a retirement hell of pretending to create, pretending you're an artist.

A scene from a favorite movie of mine (I changed it a little)

"I don't this guy's colors, Maureen. All day long I've been painting 42, 42 , 42. Christ, can't he used something else?"

"They were all out of Sad Clowns, Melvin."

"Jeez! Next time, I'll just go myself."

"You do that. You just do that. I 'm sick of buying your number paintings and then having you gripe all the time you're painting them. You just go get them yourself."

"Hah! I will."

"Hah! Fuck You!" (very quietly)


and here's where we write--

More later,


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