Friday, May 25, 2007

Where I'm Writing From

Today's blog is from guest contributor Raymond Carver, who was born on this day in 1938 in Clatskanie, Oregon.

Today’s my birthday, and I’m at a desk at Grub Street. I’ve been here before. What’s to say? I’m back.

Some birthdays ago, I moved to Boston and married a woman. We had a kid. I wrote a couple things, nothing special. I was happy with the way things were going. I had a wife and kid I loved, and an okay delivery job. I was living in the city I wanted to live in. But for some reason— who knows why we do what we do?-- my writing picks up. I begin missing some dinners. Or else I’d show up but I wouldn’t want anything to eat. I’d filled up on snacks at the bar. Sometimes I’d walk in the door and for no good reason throw my lunch pail across the living room. When my wife yelled at me, I’d turn around and go out again.

I did janitorial work and more deliveries. I kept writing. Poems, sometimes a fiction story. There was a part of me that wanted to keep doing deliveries. But there was another part.

I had heard of Grub Street. The barman said something. I’d like to know what on earth this place was. In their headquarters there was this supposed library and some rooms for workshops. The staff, they were all-right-looking, too.

Anyway, these headquarters I went to. It was in a building on Boylston Street. You could see it had tall windows. I walked in this building and up an elevator to the top floor, walked around, saw through those windows overlooking a green park. So okay. I’m saying it felt different in there. There were books and tables, and a long red couch. So much writing so close to home, where had I been? I knew I was inside an office. But it didn’t feel like I was inside anything.

I signed up for a workshop, with other writers and a teacher. Here’s how it went. You'd write something and fix it up, then fix it again, finally show it to your friend or your barman, your wife even. Your wife and your barman would say, Alright, a nice pile of words. But what did they know? They weren't your teacher.

This teacher read my story. It was nighttime when she read it, along with people in the workshop. We sat around one of those tables with plastic cups of water. They talked about my story, they liked reading it. They could read and read. I felt funny. The teacher liked the story-- a small, good thing, she said— but I’d have to fix it. Fix it again! Too much, I said. I got stormy but later I went through the pages and she was right. I got these notions forming.

As for the deliveries, they were alright. I felt I had a different job. Later my wife would call, and she’d ask me where I’m calling from, and I’d have to tell her. I’m at Grub Street, on Boylston Street. It’s not the first time.

If this sounds like a story of success, okay.


The Writers' Group said...

When we find our place, among our people, life settles a little, doesn't it? The angst never goes away, though.


barbie said...

it's so nice to have Grub on the blogs. write on...barb

lisa b. said...

Wow! I once wrote a story that was composed almost entirely of REM lyrics (disclaimer: I was 23), but I've never tried it with someone like Carver. A small, good thing indeed.

I signed up for this blogger thing just so I could comment. Oh man, yet another place for me to procrastinate ...