Byron Alexander Campbell: Hey Patrick, I am going over your love letter submission and getting things ready, and have been talking with Janice Lee about it, and we were wondering if you might consider doing a revision to bring in some more focus on craft? Maybe either touch on the form of the love letter itself or more talk about writing? It can still be interspersed w/ other autobiographical stuff, but I think it might be a better fit for the site if there were a clearer critical focus to it (while still being in your signature style).
Also, is the title final? What’s the meaning? [Editor’s Note: The original submitted title was “Big Ups W/Space.”]
Patrick Benjamin: The title’s not final. It was a phrase that came to mind when I realized I needed a title. It has no intended meaning. Which I thought fit the piece(s) because when I wrote them they had no intended purpose. Even as I was writing them I knew I’d never send them.
But I’ll draw up something in respect to craft. Have something for you soon.
Patrick Benjamin: This fucking guy stole my idea. It wasn’t one I was going to explain, but now that it’s been stolen I feel I should mention it. What that is I won’t say. Or who stole it. But it’s on this site. And it’s not a new idea.
[Editor’s Note: It was this piece by Michael J. Seidlinger, which I sent to Patrick as an example of writing-about-craft-but-not-really-about-craft. The idea is writing only while drunk. As Patrick says, it’s not a new one.]
Folks say There Are No New Ideas and I’m inclined to agree until I stop agreeing. Meaning, I stop agreeing once I write something that feels new. Original.
Craft is boring. It’s boring to talk about, and worse to read about.
You sit, you write. That’s process.
But then you do the worst fucking thing you’ll ever have to do: edit.
So I don’t edit. Or when I do, I cut a sentence and add a page. I’ve talked to so many “writers” and writers (I’m not admitting to being either) about process and craft and output and I get exhausted of hearing about how hard it is to simply sit down and write something that now I just nod and say, “yeah, so hard” and then leave and write something.
It’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s writing. It doesn’t matter.
But if writing’s your thing you know it. It’s one of the things you do.
Most everything anyone ever does is boring. The things I cherish, the books and records and whatever I go back to, they matter because I like them. Nothing more, nothing less.
I have all these love letters I’ve written people over the years. (I’m really old.)
I sent Byron a few of them and he’s agreed to put them up.
These two I wrote while fucked-up drunk and really high on Vicodin. That’s something that “works” for me. It doesn’t make my writing any better. I just like writing when I’m fucked up and don’t care what people’ll think.
If you’re a reader, first, thanks. I am too. It’s great, right? I can’t do it that much because my vision is super-weird and it takes me, like, a week to read a 200 page book, but I love it. Nothing compares.
Apropos of nothing, I used to take Dexedrin with this girl in college and we’d (obviously) stay up all night writing about the occult. It was incredibly fun. She had a really nice boyfriend with Edward Gorey tattoos all over his arms and I had a really nice girlfriend with no tattoos. I just talked to her the other, the girl I dated. She’s still really cool, which is nice to know. Almost like I “know how to pick ‘em.” Something like that.
Oh, I should mention we were taking a class on the occult titled “The Occult.” The professor was so fucking weird. But he was great. He took us out on this huge lawn thing and did some sort of ritual with a sword that had some relation the The Order of The Golden Dawn. But don’t ask me about it. I don’t get it, even after reading all the books we were supposed to read, which I didn’t at the time.
It was a cool course and a few times that girl and I took Dexedrin before we went to his class. But he was fully Spaceballs crazy so it’s not like he noticed. And if he’d found out I doubt he would’ve cared. He was on another planet.
And there. See? It’s 5:54PM and I started writing what you’ve read at 5:50PM.
Byron: Oh my god that is awesome. I am not sure I can put it on the site as is but it is awesome. I will let you know. I think it would work to append this to the love letters, you think?
Byron: Yeah I remember now what you had said about drunkenness before. No connection with what Michael wrote tho. I think if you are gonna call him out, you should call him out (even though I don’t think you’re actually calling him out).
Byron: Also there is no fucking reference to the playing times of the movie The Craft in here [Editor’s Note: In reference to a phone conversation about the submission], which is what threw me. Maybe you should consider reworking it to include references to Kraft macaroni like a Barenaked Ladies concert.
Patrick: Taking time away from real work: Byron is insane. I don’t mean that hyperbolically, and he can cut it out if he’d like, but the dude is asking me to elucidate a point about the film The Craft, which I lied about before. I don’t need research. Well, we’ll see.
Whatserface loses her hair. We call to the watchdogs of all the cardinal directions. There’s a Balk in there. I think.
People get bonuses and people get cancer.
I think Byron’s idea is this column would become clearer. That’s not going to happen.
In fact, here’s a poem no one will publish.
It’s the period that really makes it work.
I have to see this insane psychiatrist tomorrow. He bleeds information about his patients.
I’ve heard all about other patients’ sexual dysfunctions, divorces, et. al. He’s so crazy. I feel like I’ve used the word “crazy” a lot already. It seems to fit a lot of people and situations.
I really like my poem.
Like, obviously it’s a dumb joke but I like the spacing. I like the way the dumb word stands apart from the punctuation.
Seriously, no joke, it took me twenty minutes to write that untitled poem.
No, looking at it again, four minutes later, I really like it. It doesn’t have the stupidity of the act nor egregious sentiment of, well, thinking too long about it.
I mean, I do that all the time. I’m not known for it, but like everyone else, it happens. Thinking too much.
But I really like the spacing. I think it takes something undeniably disgusting to a place at least less gross.
I’m texting with a girl I really like about Sesame Street characters. She seems cool.
This is fun. Saying anything I want. Hoping I don’t get cancer. Wondering if there’s process. Okay, let’s do “process.”
A one, and a two, and a three…
I bridge the cornerstone
Above the detrentment.
Sometimes bereaving the
So, that was cool. And bad. And whatever. I got the scotch I’m drinking from a blind man who maybe knows his beard’s white. And I’m listening to Teddy Pendergrass live, talking to, what sounds like a small room full of excited women.
Craft. Is this, Byron, what you meant? I don’t have any pills so I’m fairly bummed.
Patrick: you’re amusingly confusing as an editor.
they’ll never be done! color yourself lucky. you’ve become the recipient of love letters. concise loving letters. appreciative. he says more he being one of the characters not much developed. he may be benevolent and caring. and honest. i wonder frequently how it’s done. if The Plague, Crime and Punishment, etcetera if they thought it all out ahead of time. it could be done. i could see myself with notecards. but even thinking about it makes the experience impersonal. i’m without the internet. this’ll be my second night sleeping in a massive room in my grandparents’ (my mother’s father’s [and his wife of endless years]) home in carmel, california, zip code: two hours south of san francisco and oakland, and oakland i called home for three months and when you’re 21 and me 3 months is a lifetime of weirdo birth and weirdo death and weirdo middle. there were girls. i hurt my neck attempting a double-flip on a trampoline at a party. twenty minutes before the injury my intended, my focus of the month turned me down. this lead to an upward spiral of vicodin and vodka abuse. sometimes, when you’re away from home, or the place that you’ve been for some time and is as close to home as can be imagined, you listen, i listen to songs i know: smog, the smiths, other stuff, and then more other things and then more stuff. writing you i hold a lit cigarette between pursed lips. looking at nothing, the light from my laptop deleting any chance that i could see the stars my adopted grandmother, no, that’s false, my grandmother, who had sons with others before she met my biological grandfather so long ago. she, my grandmother, whose blood would never find itself in the tree of me, went on a “peace march,” a year long trip nearly twenty years ago. i want to lie and say she knew bob dylan, joni mitchell, joan baez. she was in a cult. her cult name was rukiya, phonetically. nearly fifteen years ago i adopted my grandfather’s surname, which was my biological grandmother’s (the one you met) until she took my eldest aunt and my mother to mexico, or was guided there by my grandfather, another man whose blood wouldn’t find itself in my tree. luckily, for me, i like chopping down trees. none of them are or were good. none of them were or are uninteresting. all of them either liked weed, drink, faux-incest pornography, quilting, child-rearing, and other things, the same things sometimes. i push them for stories. they call, it’s called, carmel-by-the-sea. clint eastwood, in the 70’s, in his 40’s, mayored this city. so much time has past since i lost the red t-shirt with the black image of clint eastwood and the pope shaking hands, an illustration set forever on a thing i wore always and will never see again. the few times i’ve been in love i didn’t realize it’d been true until months or years later. so maybe i’ve lost it all or have convinced myself that it could be anything than idealization. as a teenaged pacifist i put these two, the grandparents who live in and own the house i’m sitting outside of, said through innuendo and stories and things that i was to respect them but that’s all gone. they watch television each night. they run around doing all of nothing all day. the six hour drive from la canada, california to carmel, california i told my mother, we discussed outrage, rage, anger, frustration as equal in worth to joy, stronger in worth than contentment. this grandmother (i should give her a name, her name, Jacqueline) quilts in a studio separate (more separate than the place we slept next to one another and i pressed against you to try to warm you before i knew that i’d want to be the best of friends and marry you someday) from the house, all old-wood and windows, where i’ve brought those aforementioned loves of my life as a testament to my appreciation, so they could see the beauty of lavish love and lavish life.
carmel-by-the-sea. i think about you.
Dear Windom Earle,
i’ve written you two letters while here in Carmel, California. both have proved meandering and unentertaining. here’s to new beginnings. i’m in a quaint coffee shop on Ocean sitting with a large touristing German family to my right. while they’re simply “here” and enjoying themselves i want them to leave. most especially, i want their child to stop screeching intermittently. but for them to leave would mean another group would take their place and there’re people everywhere just looking for a place to stop for an hour between the beach, the shops, and the sights. an outdoor theatre (the aptly named Forest Theatre) is built into the forest a few blocks my mother’s father’s house. he’s entering the initial stages of dementia. his wife, one of my grandmothers since birth, holds a rushed, regretful persona. a slow panic. both of them so riddled with anxiety and a search for “peace” that an invitation to visit is not to be taken lightly. neither of them read anymore, not even their inane “spiritual” self-help books that lead to them trying all sorts of snake-oil tonics and meditation programs. i can excuse my grandfather considering he sometimes seems to think i’m his brother. lights out at 10. this grandmother was in a cult for some years. she had a different name. Rukiya.
the narratives. they feel like they’ll never end. though i haven’t had the chance to touch them for a full week. but, of course, i’ll share when there’s something to share.
canary with smooth ridges of saffron. a collage of colors, a mixture of things. i can guess. i know parts for certain. all of them good, warming, except the hope. the hope is a cock-in-the-eye.
you admitted you were only “sort-of” or “a little” crazy. schizophrenia, like all other mind-maladies, i think can be measured in gradations. when people openly admit they’re “crazy,” with a hint of humor, they will show themselves less humorous and absolutely out-of-their-minds if you give them time.
my scarred knees and shins remind drunken evenings climbing then jumping off buildings, lampposts, out of moving cars and sober times doing similar things.
have you ever intentionally dropped something with the desire that someone would retrieve and return it to you? i think i’m going to start doing that. with ugly people.
now there’s an English family where the Germans were.
Byron: I would like to publish all of this as a “conversation,” but I don’t think they’ll let me. I think the fart joke is probably out, though.
Patrick: do what you must.
Editor’s Note: I am publishing this because it makes me feel dangerous. Entropy isn’t really supposed to “do” memoir. Then again, the fundament of Entropy (as far as I understand it) is to push at the boundaries of the kind of critical writing that’s accepted elsewhere, so maybe this is okay, after all. Patrick is a friend and colleague and says he would like to write more for Entropy. I sure hope he does.