The Pure Writerly Moment Continues!

67 0 0

Where do these reflections on writing take me? 

They take me to a place. The second floor of the Sumiyoshi arcade in Nagasaki, Japan. There is this cafe on the second floor. I'm the only one there. 

This cute college student hovers over me. 

"What are you doing?" 

"I'm writing," I say in bad Japanese. 


Is there any better word in the world for what I'm doing? 


When it's good, it's very good. But writing will also break your heart. At times, when I write I'm as cold and hard as Sam Spade. 

I think of that small cafe the same way I think of my writing. So much love put into every decoration -- decorations from all over the world. Pictures of graffiti in Vienna. A trophy on the wall of a traveler. 

Can you get beyond a point of fear? Can you get to a point where everything becomes a source of joy? 

There is an old tin print of Elvis when he was younger. This young Elvis reaches past the tin and tells me, "Don't let your passion be derailed by a turkey club, ya' hear?" 

"Yes, Elvis!" 

The Japanese waitress is still hovering over me. 

"What was that?" 

I understand the question, but don't know enough Japanese to answer. 

"Writing!" I say simply and continue. 

She wouldn't understand the part about Elvis and the turkey club. 


What was a writerly moment of joy for you? 

I remember this moment in Nagasaki when I started writing about very personal things -- about my experience with the world, my experience with moralists. My thoughts about "shit" and what "shit" meant to me. The cleansing nature of it. 

But I wasn't writing scenes -- that's something I've avoided. What if I could write these confessions as scenes and not just corny scenes, but as real scenes? 

I have to think that people in the theater often feel a pure performerly moment. A moment when their performance becomes sublime. 

The young waitress looks over at me. "Anything else!" 

"Latte!" I say. It's the same in English and Japanese. I wink at Elvis. 

The thoughts I'm writing in my journal -- joyfully -- will end up in my novel The Ghosts of Nagasaki some year later. Hopefully, they end up as a scene, but I don't think they do. 

The owner is a middle-aged Japanese "dude." His salaryman days are behind him. He wears a Hawaiian shirt and an apron. His ownership of the coffee shop has to come from love, right? 

I want to tell him in Japanese that I had a novel once that I wanted to write so bad that it hurt to pee. I move my mouth but don't actually say anything, and then I'm writing on the page. 

"Kaitteiru," I say over and over again as I scribble. 

My writing brings me places like coffee shops on second floors overlooking people. Hopefully, they have loves, things that work out more often than not. 

I hope they have writerly moments, just, you know, in their own ways. 

I hope you do too, reader. This is not the end. 

More odd reflections will take me further and further into a world that becomes more beautiful with every act of wordplay. 

Pure Writerly Moments (The Best of Goodreads Blog Posts, 2008 - 2018)Read this story for FREE!