The Stack

Unfinished table by IKEA, manual typewriter, one-bedroom apartment, the stack of pages sitting there as evidence, the same place I eat and drink. The answering machine, pictures of heroes on the wall. Rapping the keys until the bell goes off, rolling the carriage back and rapping it some more until I need to pull the paper out of the roller and start over.

The film The Shining, and the big reveal when Shelley Duvall realizes her husband’s gone nuts. The frame of her face reading the pages he’s written, the madness there, the turning point before he starts chasing them with the ax.

I feel the same looking back on what I wrote, those days on Capitol Hill, the writing slurred, the ribbon fading in the spool, the keys sometimes stuttering, the characters going crooked on the right side of the page because the carriage got bent, the words drooping like Dali.

I built up the stack and propped myself up, said I’m a poet when the bartender asked what I did, thought I’d try it on, see how it sounded, see if it sounded real when it came out of my mouth. It ticked me off that people always had that question (What do you do), when in fact it’s not what you do that defines you.

But of course it is. Which is why it’s hard to be a writer and not get paid for it. You need a stack to look at to remind you of your worth, like a pile of bricks you made that wouldn’t be there unless you carried them.

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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5 Responses to The Stack

  1. I’ve always wondered how people would respond if, instead of asking ‘what do you do?’, I’d ask “who are you?” I bet the range of stuttering and answers would be interesting. Liked your phrase “words drooping like Dali.”


    • pinklightsabre says:

      Nice, thank you Michelle. Yeah: the who are you thing would be pretty confronting. Don’t know I could answer that myself. I’d have to fall back to what it is I do 🙂


  2. alesiablogs says:

    After my career was abrupty ended by a brain tumor, I remember sitting in one of my doctor’s office discussing my identity. He said you are NOT your job! He gave an example from a mission trip to do eye surgery on kids in a underdeveloped country. When the doctors and others were introduced the titles of the people were nothing to the folks there, but when the doctors and nurses were introduced and said they were a father or mother to three children everyone celebrated that. It reminded me our lives our meant to be in relationship and sometimes the only thing you ever leave on this earth after you are gone may be your children . I suppose I would rather invest all I have for them at this time in my life. Great Post and one that should be elaborated on……


  3. Chilling last line. I know it took me forever to say “I’m a writer” and now I say it so assuredly that they never ask if I make any money. Which asked, would be a loud, thunderous….NO.


    • pinklightsabre says:

      You can also make money at it and lose the joy of course, which is ironic…like friends of mine who cook, but can’t cater because it becomes drudgery.


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