Shaun Levin

Availability

In Writing on September 5, 2020 at 8:43 am

For instance, you might be a writer with much time on your hands, able to dedicate a significant chunk of your mornings, afternoons and evenings to writing, but if an idea comes to you at 11am or 3pm and you don’t have a notebook with you, the idea is likely to evaporate. Having a notebook available at all times is an invitation to use it, a confirmation that writing is integral to life. Sometimes it’s nice to stop at random moments and record what’s going on. To sketch.

Last week I went out for lunch and forgot to take my notebook with me. I hadn’t been out to eat since March. The closest I’ve come to a café in the last five months is the occasional delivery from my favourite pastry shop. This pandemic has reduced the number of opportunities available to a writer to stop and stare. Never mind stare, stopping is a dangerous activity. To linger on a park bench is to invite who knows what into one’s respiratory system. Not that some of us (me) don’t run through ambling crowds and workout in local parks without any barrier between our insides and the outer world.

Anyway. So I went out for lunch. It was delicious, but without my notebook, I had to rely on the paper place-mat, a large sheet of white paper with the café’s logo and a list of select items from the menu (if only I could find that paper place-mat now, I’d tell you what was there. There was definitely arroz negro, which is what I had for my first course, and then some beef stew with chips for my main, and a chocolate tart for dessert. All delicious and because delicious writing was facilitated and I wrote about the story I’m working on, a story about running, runs in different parts of the world and possible ways I could structure the piece. It was like being a bit messy, writing there on the mesa, on a place-mate, on the table, eating and breaking off bits of bread – go easy on the bread – and sipping from the bottle of water included in the menú del día, all for only €11 so that everything conspired to feel like a gift, an invitation to create, to ease the appearance of words on a page, so it didn’t really matter that I didn’t have a notebook, though I did have a pen, and there was the paper place-mat waiting to be written on and I accepted the invitation, ate my food with gusto, felt the openness of the world and the expansiveness of it, how accommodating you can be sometimes, world, how well you make what we need available, even and especially when we don’t have our regular tools with us to make writing happen, you’re there to provide us with what we need. Our father who, etc.)

So I was saying.

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